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Under what conditions did Poe write The Raven, The Bells, and To Helen?

-- Anonymous, June 25, 2003


The best book for this is Mabbott's "Edgar Allan Poe:The Complete Poems" which is especially thorough for historical context of the poems.

In brief: The Raven was a confident poem at the height of his powers though shadowed by the ominous illness of his wife Virginia and a continuation of a common theme running through his works. Purports to be a highly artistic exercise as well in Poe's "The Philosophy of Composition". The Bells was a post-Virginia poem when the depressed and uninspired Poe was encouraged to answer a magazine challenge by a lady friend who started him off with a take on local Church bells ringing outside. The first "To Helen" was written as a reflection on Mrs. Jane Stanard, a mentoring friend of his childhood whose grave he would visit. He reworked this early classic over the years with small changes.

-- Anonymous, June 26, 2003

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