Wednesday Poetry Café (November 24)

I know I haven’t done a poetry cafe in a while, so I thought I’d take a break before I start NaNoWriMo-ing and do one.  This week’s selection is a poem by the great Edgar Allan Poe.  Since my NaNoWriMo novel is leaning toward the supernatural-ghostly-witchy genre, I thought Poe would be a perfect choice for this week since it is the last full week of the 30 day novel writing challenge.  So, here’s the poem.  My analysis and thoughts on it can be found below.



Spirits of the Dead
by Edgar Allan Poe


Thy soul shall find itself alone

‘Mid dark thoughts of the grey tomb-stone —

Not one, of all the crowd, to pry

Into thine hour of secrecy:

Be silent in that solitude

    Which is not loneliness — for then

The spirits of the dead who stood

    In life before thee are again

In death around thee — and their will

Shall then overshadow thee: be still.

For the night — tho’ clear — shall frown —

And the stars shall look not down,

From their high thrones in the Heaven,

With light like Hope to mortals given —

But their red orbs, without beam,

To thy weariness shall seem

As a burning and a fever

Which would cling to thee for ever :

Now are thoughts thou shalt not banish —

Now are visions ne’er to vanish —

From thy spirit shall they pass

No more — like dew-drop from the grass:

The breeze — the breath of God — is still —

And the mist upon the hill

Shadowy — shadowy — yet unbroken,

Is a symbol and a token —

How it hangs upon the trees,

A mystery of mysteries! —
It’s sort of obvious that “Spirits of the Dead” is about death.  Poe was a bit death obsessed, but I don’t think that was entirely his own doing.  He did endure quite a few tragic events in his life, thus contributing to his slightly odd obsession.  Back to the poem.  Personally, I think it is a beautifully written poem.  I think he is showing us how the spirits think, how they act, and what they see.  It could also be interpreted asa poem about being alone, but not really being alone.  There are ways in this life and the next in which we aren’t really alone.  Poe seems to be able to tap into that part of our psyche where we don’t really understand the meaning of being truly alone.  No one truly is alone if you think about it.  There is always someone there.  I could say that as I write this I’m alone.  No one I know is with me.  I’m sitting at a table alone at Starbucks, but in reality I have several people surrounding me.  They are not my friends nor are they really my acquaintances.  But I am still not alone.  Poe, in his life, was left alone (as most would define it) many times, but he did try to persevere through some of those times.  I think that one of those ways was in his writing.  He expressed himself beautifully most of the time, strangely yes, but still beautifully.  What do you think?

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