preview

Analyzing Edgar Allen Poe's To Helen

Better Essays
Biography Edgar Allen Poe was the prime example of the tortured genius.Orphaned at age three, he moved in with his foster parents, John and Frances Allen. Poe’s aspirations for becoming a writer began when when he was very young, however, John Allen had different plans for him. With the intention that he become a businessman, Mr. Allen sent Poe to the University of Virginia grossly under-funded. Poe began to accumulate a large amount of debt, which worsened when he attempted to pay them off by gambling. Soon Poe dropped out of college, and was forced to return home, where he discovered that his fiancee, Elmira Royster, was engaged to another man. Already, one can infer how Poe’s difficult background and circumstances could have influenced…show more content…
While many of his poems were somewhat dismal, he demonstrates his ability to express himself through words in an entirely different light in this poem. To Helen is an ode to his love for an older woman named Jane Stanard, the mother of his schoolmate friend Rob Stanard. Likely for the simple reason that he lacked a strong maternal figure in his life, he naturally bonded to her. Mrs.Stanard gave him much needed sympathy and affection when he couldn’t find it anywhere else. (1) However there are many clues in Poe’s diction that indicate his feelings towards her where more than a son would have for his mother. For example he goes to great lengths in order to explain her physical beauty. When Poe wrote, “Thy hyacinth hair, thy classic face, “Thy Naiad airs have brought me home,” he seems to be insinuating that his feelings for her were more than filial. Regardless, Poe’s tone is loving. Every word points to how much he admires her. He uses a simile to describe her, saying, “thy beauty is to me like those Nicéan barks of yore.” He goes on to say that the Nicéan Barks brought the weary traveler home to his native shore, possibly symbolizing how he was in a way brought home by the love of a woman. Poe even alludes to historical empires to emphasize how deeply Jane Stanard affected him. He speaks of how her beauty makes him think of some of the most magnificent and powerful civilizations in the history of the world,…show more content…
Poe experienced a great amount of loss, and heartache in regard to the women in his life. Annabel was written following the death of his wife Virginia, so as is customary to his work, the tone is quite somber. Annabel Lee is in a rhyme scheme that accentuates the word sea, throughout the poem. This repetition demonstrates how significant the setting by the ocean is. It acts as a symbol of the power and immensity of the characters’ love.The poem describes a sailor who falls in love with a woman by the sea. Poe beautifully articulates the speaker’s true love for her saying, “But we loved with a love that was more than love— I and my Annabel Lee” She is then taken away by an overprotective father and falls ill. The speaker, however, is not fazed by this and says, “But our love it was stronger by far than the love Of those who were older than we— Of many far wiser than we—” Even until death the speaker’s love for Annabel Lee persists as he lies down beside her in her “tomb by the
Get Access