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Edgar Allan Poe's Poetry

            Death: A Recurring Theme in Poe's Poetry.
             Although Edgar Allan Poe is one of the best known American writers of short stories, he "turned to poetry as often as he could" (Buranelli 88) Several poems: "Ulalume", "The Raven," "Lenore," and Annabel Lee" deal specifically with the death of a beautiful woman. Others, like "The Bells" and "The City in the Sea" deal with death in general. The recurring theme of death in Poe's poetry, especially the death of a beautiful young woman is supported by strange morbid settings, a dreamlike, gloomy atmosphere and repetitive wording and sounds. .
             Some critics believe that Poe's tragic life influenced his choice of death as a recurring theme. His mother Elizabeth died when Poe was only two years of age. When he was fifteen, the mother of a friend, Jane Stanard, became gravely ill and died. She "seems to have represented to him an ideal of heavenly grace, and he was fond of calling her "Helen".Poe.is reported to have visited her grave frequently" (Myerson 251) In addition, five years later his adopted mother, Frances Allan died, and finally his beloved wife Virginia died. While these tragic events may have influenced Poe's choice of poetic topics, he gave his own reasons for the choice in "Philosophy of Composition." Poe believed that "Beauty is .the atmosphere and the essence of the poem" and it ".excites the sensitive soul tears. Melancholy is thus the most legitimate of all the poetical tones." (Poe "Philosophy"). According to his own standards, Poe believed that "the death then of a beautiful woman is unquestionably the most poetical topic in the world." Garofalo 2.
             "The Bells" a poem about life begins in an apparently uplifting mood. In fact, the sleigh bells tinkling in line 2 predict a "What a world of merriment their melody foretells!" The word "bells" is repeated seven times in this and other stanzas. The repetition builds a certain tension in the reader as Poe describes life cycles as represented by the bells.

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