Fairy Land

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Was wondering if someone might be able to tell me more about his poem Fairy Land? What any underlying concepts or messages of the poem might be.. Thanks

-- Anonymous, April 22, 2004


If you want to go deeper in Poe's ideas infused in these apparently dim verses, the best think is probably to read (on line, at www.eapoe.org, among Poe's Works -- Poems) the various versions of it, especially the 1831 one, perhaps the weakest but surely the clearest and most living/concrete one -- with its precise apostrophe to one Isabel -- receiving thus a kind of (fictional) context which gives some definite frame for such an oniric extravagant vision (this one curiously echoing somewhat the well- known sonnet "To Science", the one introducing the far longer 1829 poem "Al Aaraaf", both available too at the same marvellous web- site). When doing so, you'll surely discover how much consistent and "luminous" Poe ever was in his compositions. And moreover, from that, you will surely find by yourself some new and unexpected meaning. By so linking Poe's texts, we can get very often much more truth than when pondering over many interpretative/procustean studies. Good luck. Raven's Shade (Belgium).

-- Anonymous, April 25, 2004

More specifically, this poem is a problem because you have to think Lewis Carroll a bit because this is a conscious piece of fluff satire, on poetry by Thomas Moore, a frequent source for Poe. Poe even wrote an essay lampooning the inappropriate similes(Poe rarely used similes as it was) of a Moore poem about faerie. Like Carroll, Poe the rationalist could not help one-upping and transcending the satire into a beautiful poem in own right. Poe himself describes the oodd combination of humor and fantasy, the "archness" as having a fitting emotional blend.

Poe's "Fairyland" is more his "The Valley of Unrest" or"Dreamland" out of space, out of time of things unseen, uncolored but there- than the traditional fairyland of Romantic poetry or myth. His "lunatic" moon keeps phasing during a single night, "obscuring" the stars. This continues a mockery of the moon and preference for the stars that Poe addressed against Moore's concept in another poem "Evening Star".

Part begins at the witching hour of midnight. One filmy monster moon descends in a kind of appalling pall, devouring all in that light, yet still obscuring in a "labyrinth" of light. Next comes the morning with that moony light tossed up again with no mention of the sun. The tempest tossing begin a new hyperbole that is short circuited with a direct lampoon of Moore's wrost simile in Poe's opinion. "Like- almost anything- /Or a yellow Albatross." The moon is no longer this incredibly exagerated 'tent". Poe ends this description of the breakup of the moon's grandiose power with his own comparison, much more beautiful and delicate- of butterflies bearing dew or sparks of light in their airy trips and descent.

So the movement of the poem goes from the grotesque "Mooreism" of the magical Moon and its absurd breakup at dawn to Poe's closing lesson in simplicity and appropriate symbolism. the little things, the stars, the butterflies, one can enjoy all of it. The absurd wonder of the comedy of satire to Poe's gentle closing can be enjoyed for the laugh, the wonder and the beauty- a lesson in its entirety as it is cleverly critical in its intent.

-- Anonymous, April 26, 2004

Mr Murphy gives you a really clever, thoroughful and right compendium (and analysis) of almost of all that we may find in these verses. Recent scholars usually consider them indeed as humorous, satirical ones, together with a gentle satire directed towards Th. Moore's FANCY (contradistinguished from nobler and loftier IMAGINATION) comparative (metaphorical) faculty. Poe wrote many notes about this famous Coleridgean concept. But, though actually using fanciful matters here, he might have had in mind, nevertheless, something more than mere archness. You can find at ww.eapoe.org that the first 1829 version was closing the so-called "Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems" volume, just as some fermata in music, that may act as poetically prolonging the regret expressed in the opening sonnet of the same book (later called "To Science", about disappeared elfins and other dreamy - fairy - fanciful - childish creatures), the real prologue/ouverture to the Plotinian/Platonic "Al Aaraaf"'s reflexion upon Beauty and Creation. But if you are now going to the next 1831 "Poems - 2° ed." volume, and the new longer (and weaker) version I alluded to in my previous answer, you will probably find some curiously similar - and far more gloomy - notions used too in another, newly written, poem, viz. "Iršene", this fact implying, to my mind at least, a probably more serious intention, even if by some merely recycling trick. Note that when taking again this poem for later publications, Poe did in fact retain his initial subtler and more unified (through mystery) imaginative (or fanciful?) form. All this simply to show you that we may approach Poe's magic texts by very various ways indeed. To me, to read Poe's texts in all their "material" contexts often brings otherwise unsuspected possible significances. Where does Verity lie? Yours sincerely, Raven's Shade (Belgium).

-- Anonymous, April 27, 2004

And just to go a step farther, it is certainly useful to precise that the "yellow albatross" is not at all a fanciful imaginary creature (as often believed by many Poe scholars), but an actual yellow butterfly (of, i.a., Australian regions) well known by the Latin name of "Appias Paulina Ega"...

No more for the moment.

Yours sincerely,

Raven's Shade (Belgium).

-- Anonymous, April 29, 2004

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