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Originality And Innovation In The Poetry Of Edgar Allen Poe

1542 words - 7 pages

To experiment is a process that is associated mainly with the sciences. To the realm of science and the scientific mind, which thinks, hypothesises, theorises, and tests through experimentation, and all with a view to ultimately creating a law. This law will be treated as a truth, something about which any question of it's own integrity has slowly but surely been drained to it's last drop, to become dry of doubt, mystery dissolved. It may have taken innovation and experimentation to get there, but now it is unmoveable. In artistic or creative pursuits, this can never be true. Some poets have made a name by breaking any existing laws or rules they may have come up against, but in ...view middle of the document...

What we find here, is an analytical mind, that reveals the very rational, rigidly planned and precise steps that were taken in producing the poems desired effects on the reader; steps he describes as being as rigid as those in the completion of a mathematical equation, but which he devised himself.5 He describes his considerations on the length of the poem, he decides before pen has touched paper, on a length of just about one hundred lines as being not too long, as to spoil the totality of the poem, meaning that the average person could read and enjoy it in one sitting; yet he knew it must not be too short; the effect of the poem, and how he might go about producing a certain emotional reaction in the reader with specific incidents or tones.6 The poem had been meticulously constructed with popularity in mind, universal appreciability7 and this despite the fact that Poe once wrote that mere popularity is not in most cases a guage of somethings worth.8 However, Poe took the qualities in a poem he thought to be not above being popular and yet not below the critics radar as something of merit; having come to his conclusions quite logically; he then added to this formula his own original ideas, his tone, effects, imagery with all it's connotations and his words which were chosen for there sound when vocally intonated as much as their meaning and application as a sonorous refrain.9 As regards the form, he used the refrain, the possibly monotonous repetition of which he balances by pairing the monotone of sound with a lively variation of thought and imagery:10

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallad bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is
dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on
the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the
floor
Shall be lifted – nevermore!

This is the last stanza of the 'The Raven'. Poe believed that any work of literature worth it's salt should be developed to it's denouement before pen meets paper. This is in fact the method he used in 'The Raven', giving himself the ability to accomodate the final intention with suitable incidents and particularly tone.11 What he came up with was a poem that has been popular for one reason or another ever since and studied by people from many walks of life. The use of sound, a musical element to the poem, it's rhythm and flow, are elements also present in 'Ulalume', which he wrote around 1847:12

The skies they were ashen and sober;
The leaves they were crisped and sere -
The leaves they were withering and sere;
It was night in the lonesome October
Of my most immemorial year;
It was hard by the dim lake of Auber,
In the misty mid region of Weir -
It was down by the dank tarn of Auber,
In the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.

In this poem...

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