Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the tag “Edgar Allan Poe”

NPM: #25–the Poe in poetry

Most of Poe is a favorite. I don’t care for the macabre aspect, the chop-him-up-cause-I-loved-him-so stuff. Makes me nervous walking across floorboards when he does that kind of writing. My students like Poe because they like the scary aspect of his writing, although they don’t always understand his diction, they get his intent of setting people offside with mixing real with horror. So, it is with surprise that I’ve come across a Poe poem that is actually upbeat. Which Poe are you most familiar with–the scary guy or the dreamer?


Edgar Allan Poe, 18091849
Oh! that my young life were a lasting dream!
My spirit not awakening, till the beam
Of an Eternity should bring the morrow.
Yes! tho’ that long dream were of hopeless sorrow,
’Twere better than the cold reality
Of waking life, to him whose heart must be,
And hath been still, upon the lovely earth,
A chaos of deep passion, from his birth.
But should it be—that dream eternally
Continuing—as dreams have been to me
In my young boyhood—should it thus be given,
’Twere folly still to hope for higher Heaven.
For I have revell’d when the sun was bright
I’ the summer sky, in dreams of living light,
And loveliness,—have left my very heart
In climes of mine imagining, apart
From mine own home, with beings that have been
Of mine own thought—what more could I have seen?
’Twas once—and only once—and the wild hour
From my remembrance shall not pass—some power
Or spell had bound me—’twas the chilly wind
Came o’er me in the night, and left behind
Its image on my spirit—or the moon
Shone on my slumbers in her lofty noon
Too coldly—or the stars—howe’er it was
That dream was as that night-wind—let it pass.
I have been happy, tho’ [but] in a dream.
I have been happy—and I love the theme:
Dreams! in their vivid colouring of life
As in that fleeting, shadowy, misty strife
Of semblance with reality which brings
To the delirious eye, more lovely things
Of Paradise and Love—and all our own!
Than young Hope in his sunniest hour hath known.
Edgar Allan Poe

Eddie, do you need a hug?

image: Academy of American Poets

Poe Is the O in October

Word association time.  Let’s go with Poe:

  • creepy
  • scary
  • gruesome
  • mesmerizing
  • madness
  • death
  • Pits
  • Pendulum
  • Hearts
  • Ravens
Edgar Allan Poe Museum (Richmond, Virginia)

Edgar Allan Poe Museum (Richmond, Virginia) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yeah, ravens. Who doesn’t know The Raven? Don’t tell my freshmen, but after we get their poetry notebooks all turned in we are pretty much done with the curriculum poems and now it’s verse revelry. This is where I bring out poems that I’m hoping will be memorable.  I like to bring out The Raven because, of course, it’s well-done, it’s a classic, it’s a trademark, and plus it’s creepy.Come on, you know what I’m talking about. A guy passing a quiet evening in his library and a crazy overgrown crow bops in and redundantly cries “Nevermore!” That’s nutsy stuff.

There are scads of versions to pursue–everything from the smaltzy Vincent Price movie to Christopher Walken’s chilling audio clip to The Simpson’s animation silliness. While all these have their own value, I have discovered my new favorite.

I’d love to know what you think.

Christopher Lee is riveting, and the illustrations–I never knew they existed!

So–Poe is the O in October not only because he left this world in such an ambiguous way on October 7th, but also because he is Oh So Creepy and for me October is the creepy month. I’m not going there about the bizarre event of parading kids around at night in costumes to hit up strangers for candy (don’t get me going on that one)–no, no, it’s not really that. It’s more due to the fact that October signifies the diminishing of daylight and I sorely miss my daylight. It’s darn right creepy to wake up at 5 am in pitch black and then have it just as light deprived at 5 pm. October must have inspired Poe to dwell so much in darkness.  He definitely rates the King of Oh-My-Goodness-That-Freaks-Me-Out writing.

English: Cover of the pulp magazine Weird Tale...

English: Cover of the pulp magazine Weird Tales (September 1939, vol. 34, no. 3) featuring The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe. Cover art by Virgil Finlay. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

#9: Poems to Know and Grow On

It’s been too long since I paid attention to my Musings of a Voracious Reader list.  Tidying up my files I discovered entry #9: Poems to Know and Grow On and it seems quite appropriate as a post-Valentine’s Day post, since poetry is the food of love (right next to chocolate).

As I teach poetry, especially as I prepare my AP students for their exams in May, I am reading more and more poets and poetry.  This is a good thing.  In fact, I am now taking on what I have deemed as the “Emily Project” which is discovering Emily Dickinson.  Understanding her would be another project in itself.

As I teach, read, and study poems I have gathered a few along the way.  I dearly wish I had a better knack for memorization because I would like to pull out a poem for any occasion and dazzle, delight, and demonstrate the power of poetry to any willing listener. I love it when that moment arrives in a movie when one character starts a poem and another finishes it.  Remember Willoughby and Marianne from Sense and Sensibility? *sigh*

This is simply a sprinkling of poems I have deemed worth knowing and to grow on:

1. My First Memory (of Librarians) by Nikki Giovanni–a Book Booster’s banner poem of delight

2. Harlem (A Dream Deferred) by Langston Hughes–his imagery is enviable

3.Introduction to Poetry by Billy Collins–enjoy poetry, don’t tie it to a chair and beat a confession out of it (love this)

4. Hope Is A Thing With Feathers by Emily Dickinson–hope wings its way into our hearts

5. The Road Not Takenby Robert Frost–almost clichéd by its overuse, it’s still a powerful statement about making choices

6. The Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll–delightfully fun for any age

7. This Is Just To Say by William Carlos Williams–after I discovered this was actually a note to his wife I embraced the poem even more

8. The Tyger by William Blake–imagine seeing a tiger for the first time; how can something so exquisitely beautiful be also so incredibly deadly?

9. One Art by Elizabeth Bishop–the more I read Bishop the more I realize what talent she has for capturing life’s moments

10.I Hear America Singing by Walt Whitman–“a sweaty-toothed madmen” claimed Todd from Dead Poets Society, when asked what he thought of Uncle Walt; Whitman is clearly underrated (check out the Poem Flow when you hit the link or better yet check out this YouTube)

11. Sonnet 130 by William Shakespeare–the Bard employs his wit whilst he poketh funneth at the syrupy nature of sonnets

12. We Real Cool by Gwendolyn Brooks–no matter the era, youth’s self-destruction prevails

13. Fog by Carl Sandburg–its simplicity speaks volumes

14. The Daffodils by William Wordsworth–my heart gladdens of spring’s promise as the daffodils lift their golden heads above winter’s chilly grasp

And there are  fourteen poems, a drop of verses in the deep well of that which stirs the soul, as a nod to Valentine’s Day and the tradition of sweet rhymes, chocolate, and roses.

One last poem to know and grow on, not necessarily my favorite, but definitely memorable.  True love is memorable, as Poe so deftly renders in this tribute to his lost love. This one usually makes my ninth grade students pause, which is one reason I refer to it.

Annabel Lee

by Edgar Allan Poe
It was many and many a year ago,
   In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
   By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
   Than to love and be loved by me.

I was a child and she was a child,
   In this kingdom by the sea:
But we loved with a love that was more than love--
   I and my Annabel Lee;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
   Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,
   In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
   My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsman came
   And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
   In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
   Went envying her and me--
Yes!--that was the reason (as all men know,
   In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
   Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
   Of those who were older than we--
   Of many far wiser than we--
And neither the angels in heaven above,
   Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
   Of the beautiful Annabel Lee:

For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams
   Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes
   Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling--my darling--my life and my bride,
   In her sepulchre there by the sea,
   In her tomb by the sounding sea.

Virginia Poe watercolor painted after her deat...

Virginia Poe watercolor painted after her death in 1847. From Category:Edgar Allan Poe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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