Saturday, May 9, 2009

Poe Fridays (on Saturday)

This week, we are reading the poem To One in Paradise. It's not too long, so I'm reprinting the entire text below. The last stanza is in italics, because it is omitted in some versions, including the one in my book.

Thou wast all that to me, love,
For which my soul did pine —
A green isle in the sea, love,
A fountain and a shrine,
All wreathed with fairy fruits and flowers,
And all the flowers were mine.

Ah, dream too bright to last!
Ah, starry Hope! that didst arise
But to be overcast!
A voice from out the Future cries,
"On! on!" —but o'er the Past
(Dim gulf!) my spirit hovering lies
Mute, motionless, aghast!

For, alas! alas! with me
The light of Life is o'er!
No more —no more —no more —
(Such language holds the solemn sea
To the sands upon the shore)
Shall bloom the thunder-blasted tree,
Or the stricken eagle soar!

And all my days are trances,
And all my nightly dreams
Are where thy gray eye glances,
And where thy footsteps gleams —
In what ethereal dances,
By what eternal streams.
Alas! for that accursed time
They bore thee o'er the billow,
From Love to titled age and crime,
And an unholy pillow!--
From me, and from our misty clime
Where weeps the silver willow!

Classic Poe - honestly, a relief for me after last week's struggle. It's good to be back to death in flowery metaphors! Once again, Poe gives us a narrator distraught over the death of his one true love. The thing I love about Poe is his total commitment to whatever subject he chooses. Last week, he wanted an Irish brogue, and he created one that was nearly indecipherable. This week, he wants despair and lost love, and he gives us love as though no one in the world had ever loved before. He gives us trees ceasing to bloom, and eagles stopping flight. He never does anything halfway, and that's why I keep reading his work, even when I don't necessarily enjoy it.

That being said, this is a gorgeous poem. His rhythm is mesmerizing, making this poem great for reading aloud. And I like the last, sometimes discarded stanza. I'm glad I found it. I'm sure it's one of the poems he revised over and over, so some versions contain that section and some don't. Personally, I think it's stronger with that last stanza. Yes, it is "mopey", but it is the Poe I know and love.

Next week, we will be reading the short story, Berenice. Poe Fridays is hosted by Kristen at WeBeReading.


Kristen M. said...

This *was* a relief after last week, wasn't it?!? I think this is one of my favorite poems of his for imagery and flow. It's sad but not negative -- there's no blame or anything. I liked it!

Elizabeth said...

Kristen - it's certainly beautiful. And you are right - sad but not negative. He's a genius, that Poe. =)