Thursday, February 27, 2014

A VAlentine

Edgar Allen Poe
For her this rhyme is penned, whose luminous eyes,
Brightly expressive as the twins of Leda,
Shall find her own sweet name, that nestling lies
Upon the page, enwrapped from every reader.
Search narrowly the lines!- they hold a treasure
Divine- a talisman- an amulet
That must be worn at heart. Search well the measure-
The words- the syllables! Do not forget
The trivialest point, or you may lose you    Which one might not undo without a sabre,
If one could merely comprehend the plot.
Enwritten upon the leaf where now are peering
Eyes scintillating soul, there lie perdus
Three eloquent words oft uttered in the hearing
Of poets, by poets- as the name is a poet’s, too,
Its letters, although naturally lying
Like the knight Pinto- Mendez Ferdinando-
Still form a synonym for Truth- Cease trying!
You will not read the riddle, though you do the best you can do.

This is a lyrical poem, written in the form of acrostic. Other than a poem, “A Valentine” is actually a riddle that Poe made to reveal his secret lover. Edgar Allen Poe composed “A Valentine” to express his affection for a woman, but he’s too afraid to directly tell her because she’s already married. The subject matter is about Poe’s challenge for the readers, to solve the riddle within this poem. Through the puzzle that the writer gives out to the reader, he also blends in the implication for his lover’s beauty. Poe’s love for this woman is a secret affair. He can only express it in discreet, through the meaning of this poem, because it is wrongful to be infatuated with a married woman. The theme of this poem is about a woman’s magnificence to a man when he’s falling in love, and the mysteriousness of this secret love they’re having. Poe wrote this poem under his personal context of being in love, in a secret love affair. The historical context of “A Valentine” is in the 1846, so it is evident that the language used is formal. The tone applied for this poem is very romantic, when refer to the woman and stimulating, in terms of the mystery for the reader. The writing purpose of Poe is to stimulate the readers with an interesting puzzle about his lover. The regular rhyme scheme of this poem is abab cdcd, but sometimes the pattern change unexpectedly due to the appearance of an odd line with no rhyme.

An Enigma

Seldom we find,” says Solomon Don Dunce,
“Half an idea in the profoundest sonnet.
Through all the flimsy things we see at once
As easily as through a Naples bonnet —
Trash of all trash! — how can a lady don it?
Yet heavier far than your Petrarchan stuff —
Owl-downy nonsense that the faintest puff
Twirls into trunk-paper the while you con it.”
And, veritably, Sol is right enough.
The general tuckermanities are arrant
Bubbles — ephemeral and so transparent —
But this is, now, — you may depend upon it —
Stable, opaque, immortal — all by dint
Of the dear names that lie concealed within ’t.



By a route obscure and lonely,

Haunted by ill angels only,

Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT,

On a black throne reigns upright,

I have reached these lands but newly

From an ultimate dim Thule-

From a wild clime that lieth, sublime,

Out of SPACE- out of TIME.

Bottomless vales and boundless floods,

And chasms, and caves, and Titan woods,

With forms that no man can discover

For the tears that drip all over;

Mountains toppling evermore

Into seas without a shore;

Seas that restlessly aspire,

Surging, unto skies of fire;

Lakes that endlessly outspread

Their lone waters- lone and dead,-

Their still waters- still and chilly

With the snows of the lolling lily.

By the lakes that thus outspread

Their lone waters, lone and dead,-

Their sad waters, sad and chilly

With the snows of the lolling lily,-

By the mountains- near the river

Murmuring lowly, murmuring ever,-

By the grey woods,- by the swamp

Where the toad and the newt encamp-

By the dismal tarns and pools

Where dwell the Ghouls,-

By each spot the most unholy-

In each nook most melancholy-

There the traveller meets aghast

Sheeted Memories of the Past-

Shrouded forms that start and sigh

As they pass the wanderer by-

White-robed forms of friends long given,

In agony, to the Earth- and Heaven.

For the heart whose woes are legion

'Tis a peaceful, soothing region-

For the spirit that walks in shadow

'Tis- oh, 'tis an Eldorado!

But the traveller, travelling through it,

May not- dare not openly view it!

Never its mysteries are exposed

To the weak human eye unclosed;

So wills its King, who hath forbid

The uplifting of the fringed lid;

And thus the sad Soul that here passes

Beholds it but through darkened glasses.

By a route obscure and lonely,

Haunted by ill angels only,

Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT,

On a black throne reigns upright,

I have wandered home but newly

From this ultimate dim Thule.

Edgar Allan Poe

"Dream-Land" tells the story of a journey, although it's never quite clear where that trip starts or where it ends. For the most part, the poem describes the strange and amazing sights the speaker sees along the way.
We begin with a tantalizingly vague description of the speaker arriving in a strange new land. He doesn't say where exactly he's coming from, just that it was far away, beyond the borders of space and time. The place he's arrived in is haunted by evil spirits and ruled by the creepy, dark figure of "Night." This new country has a huge landscape of oceans, valleys, caves, and forests. Nothing looks or moves the way it does in everyday life. Mountains tumble, the sky is on fire, the ocean leaps up, the snow sits on the ground forever. Sometimes this world is violent and exciting, sometimes it's creepily quiet and still, but there's a sad loneliness everywhere.
It's not just the landscape that's strange and sad. Apparently the speaker sees ghosts on his journey too, the spirits of dead loved ones. Weirdly enough, this makes the speaker feel kind of good. Apparently his life has been tough, and he prefers to live in this strange and different land. He only gets a glimpse of the mysterious world when he is sleeping, but he still loves it and treasures those moments.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Bridal Ballad

The ring is on my hand,

And the wreath is on my brow;

Satin and jewels grand

Are all at my command,

And I am happy now.

And my lord he loves me well;

But, when first he breathed his vow,

I felt my bosom swell-

For the words rang as a knell,

And the voice seemed his who fell

In the battle down the dell,

And who is happy now.

But he spoke to re-assure me,

And he kissed my pallid brow,

While a reverie came o'er me,

And to the church-yard bore me,

And I sighed to him before me,

Thinking him dead D'Elormie,

"Oh, I am happy now!"

And thus the words were spoken,

And this the plighted vow,

And, though my faith be broken,

And, though my heart be broken,

Here is a ring, as token

That I am happy now!

Would God I could awaken!

For I dream I know not how!

And my soul is sorely shaken

Lest an evil step be taken,-

Lest the dead who is forsaken

May not be happy now.

Edgar Allan Poe

The poem, “Bridal Ballad”, by Edgar Allan Poe is written from a woman’s standpoint and demonstrates the idea that a lawfully binding marriage cannot define the tie of a truly loving marriage. There is nothing that can truly marry two people except genuine love for each other. Throughout the poem, the speaker tries to convince herself that she is happy with the man she is marrying, “her Lord”, because he can give her a beautiful ring and “satin and jewels”, but in all actuality her love really lies within the heart of her dead lover, D’Elormie. The general tone of the poem is sorrow in that she cannot get over the man of her dreams and is constantly trying to re-assure herself that she is content and cheerful with her new marriage. There are some moments of sarcasm and bitterness especially when she tries convincing herself that she is “happy now” despite her very unpleasant reality. The emotions of the bride can be described as depressing because it seems as though she is living in misery because she is more concerned about putting other’s happiness before her own. “Bridal Ballad” touches on a fundamental theme of marriage and the love, loss, and longing for happiness that comes along with it.


Gaily bedight,

A gallant knight,

In sunshine and in shadow,

Had journeyed long,

Singing a song,

In search of Eldorado.

But he grew old-

This knight so bold-

And o'er his heart a shadow

Fell as he found

No spot of ground

That looked like Eldorado.

And, as his strength

Failed him at length,

He met a pilgrim shadow-

"Shadow," said he,

"Where can it be-

This land of Eldorado?"

"Over the Mountains

Of the Moon,

Down the Valley of the Shadow,

Ride, boldly ride,"

The shade replied-

"If you seek for Eldorado!"

Edgar Allan Poe

Structurally, "Eldorado" consists of four stanzas, each of which consists of six lines. The first stanza describes a "gallant knight" who is "gaily bedight" and in the high point of optimistic youth, as he believes unswervingly that Eldorado exists and that he will eventually locate the city. The second stanza is less bright in tone, as the knight moves on to old age and begins to suspect that he will never achieve his life's goal. The next stanza then brings him to his deathbed, as he asks the "pilgrim shadow" for advice in much the same manner as the narrator of "The Raven" asks the raven for advice about his lost Lenore and about life after death. Finally, the last stanza moves from life into death, completing the human life cycle as the shadow advises that the knight continue his quest into death.If the search for Eldorado is an allegory for the progression of a lifetime, then the fact that the search only ends in death may have multiple meanings. Some critics have described the knight's quest as indicative of faith that fulfillment exists after death, a sentiment echoed by Guy de Vere of Poe's poem "Lenore." In addition, Poe's works have often associated death with ideals of purity and beauty made permanent, again as in "Lenore" or in his short story "Ligeia." Poe may also be characterizing life as a constant search, to which the object of search only appears in death, an interpretation that recalls the narrator of the short story "MS. Found in a Bottle," who learns not to fear death in hopes of achieving knowledge.

A Dream Within a Dream

Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow-
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand-
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep- while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?

Edgar Allan Poe

The structure of "A Dream Within a Dream" consists of two stanzas containing two disparate but ultimately connected scenes. The first stanza shows the first-person point of view of the narrator parting from a lover, while the second places the narrator on a beach while futilely attempting to grasp a handful of sand in his hand. The juxtaposed scenes contrast in a number of ways, as the poem moves from a calm, though solemn, farewell to a more passionate second half. Whereas the first stanza features a thoughtful agreement, the seashore scene contains expletives such as "O God!" and anguished exclamations along with despairing rhetorical questions to reflect the torment in the narrator's soul.Despite the apparent differences between the two stanzas, they are linked through the ironic similarity of their evanescent natures. In the first image, the narrator is leaving his lover, indicating a sense of finality (and mortality) to their love. Accordingly, the falling grains of sand in the second stanza recall the image of an hourglass, which in turn represents the passage of time. As the sand flows away until all time has passed, the lovers' time also disappears, and the sand and the romance each turn into impressions from a dream. Through the alliteration in "grains of the golden sand," Poe emphasizes the "golden" or desired nature of both the sand and of love, but he shows clearly that neither is permanently attainable.

The Everyday Enchantment of Music

A rough sound was polished until it became a smoother sound, which was polished until it became music. Then the music was polished until it became the memory of a night in Venice when tears of the sea fell from the Bridge of Sighs, which in turn was polished until it ceased to be and in its place stood the empty home of a heart in trouble. Then suddenly there was sun and the music came back and traffic was moving and off in the distance, at the edge of the city, a long line of clouds appeared, and there was thunder, which, however menacing, would become music, and the memory of what happened after Venice would begin, and what happened after the home of the troubled heart broke in two would also begin.

Mark Strand