Tina Giarla Professor Allison 21 Oct. 2012 Edgar Allan Poe’s Theory & Poetry “The Philosophy of Composition” is an essay written by Edgar Allan Poe that explains his theory on good writers and their writing methods. Essentially, Poe believed every poem should have a strong effect on the reader and that poems should be short and to the point. In addition, Poe described his ideal writing process, where the author methodically and logically writes their poems, as opposed to writing on a whim. Poe made a living writing essays, reviews and commentaries on other writers” (National Endowment for the Arts). One must assume he must have been a skilled writer and applied his methods to his own work. Poe’s poem “Annabel Lee” is a prime example to better understand his theory on good writing. “Annabel Lee” is a poem by Poe that perfectly demonstrated his theory on good writers and good writing methods. In summary, the poem is about a man who described his undying love of his dead wife, Annabel Lee.
In “The Philosophy of Composition” he asserted that “the death of a beautiful woman is the most poetical topic in the world” (Meyers). Therefore, “Annabel Lee” followed Poe’s favorite theme and proved the functionality of his theory. Edgar Allan Poe wrote “Annabel Lee” in May 1849, a few months before his death, and it first appeared in “The Southern Literary Messenger” posthumously in November 1849. Although the poem may refer to a number of women in Poe’s life, most acknowledge it to be in memory of Virginia Clemm, Poe’s wife.
The work returns to Poe’s frequent fixation with the romantic image of a beautiful woman who has died too suddenly in the flush of youth. “As indicated more thoroughly in his short story “The Oval Portrait,” Poe often associated death with the freezing and capturing of beauty, and many of his heroines reach the peak of loveliness on their deathbed” (Green, Susie’s Notepad). The poem specifically mentions Annabel Lee, and it “celebrates child-like emotions in a way consistent with the ideals of the Romantic era” (Green, Susie’s Notepad).
Many Romantics from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries viewed adulthood as a corruption of the purer instincts of childhood, and they preferred nature to society because they considered it to be a more instinctive state. Readers have the chance to form their own opinions on his theories. Death is definitely the most emotion evoking topic; something a about women’s safety has always been more fragile than men. Therefore, one must agree with Poe’s assertion in “The Philosophy of Composition” that the death of a beautiful woman is the most poetical topic in the world.
Accordingly, Poe treats the narrator’s childhood love for Annabel Lee as fuller and more eternal than the love of adults. Annabel Lee is gentle and persistent in her love, and she has no complex emotions that may darken or complicate her love. The poem ‘Annabel Lee’ is one based on the theme of eternal love. In this poem, the narrator portrays his love toward Annabel by means of a dramatic use of nostalgia. In the line “For we loved with a love that was more than love…” narrator says that the bonds of their love were so strong that it cannot be affected by anything.
He also implies that their love was divine and it could not be compared to the definition of love. The central idea of the poem is based on their love, their experiences, and their sufferings. Poe argued in “The Philosophy of Composition” that a writer must decide on an effect before writing the poem, and then use the appropriate tools to convey the wanted message. “Annabel Lee” has a child-like rhyme scheme, but when one analyzes it, it becomes clear that it is a pretty creepy poem. The narrator ends up lying with Annabel’s coffin.
The way the poem can be read, is it builds from calm and quiet to dramatic and intense. Poe’s purposely wrote the poem to give readers a chilling and ghostly story. One of Poe’s main points in “The Philosophy of Composition” authors must methodically and logically write their poems in order to produce “good” literature. Poe proved through his own writings, including “Annabel Lee,” that he personally methodically and logically wrote his poems by planning out the rhyme scheme and structure based on the ultimate message.
One must agree that Poe’s practice of his own theory is quite effective. If a writer did not plan out the ending message, the poem’s body would not convey the ending well enough to readers to be considered a “good” and “enjoyable” read. Some artists may claim to paint or sing a song on a whim, but it is much more plausible that a valuable painting, song or poem would have to be well thought out with structure and organization before starting it. Another main point in “The Philosophy of Composition” is that poetry should be short and to the point. Annabel Lee” is only a total of six stanzas, meaning Poe complied with the short poem rule. Poe basically thinks that long poems are essentially many short poems put together. One must agree with this thought process. “Annabel Lee” is short yet gives readers an interesting story and chilling final message. In conclusion, Poe wrote a short, methodically written poem about a beautiful women’s death. Therefore, Poe’s poem “Annabel Lee” is a prime example to better understand his theory on good writing in “The Philosophy of Composition. “
Works Cited Meyers, Jeffrey. Edgar Allan Poe: His Life and Legacy. New York: Cooper Square Press, 1992. p. 243. National Endowment for the Arts. Unknown author. “Poe’ Theory of Poetry” The Big Read. 2012. Web. 21 Oct. 2012. Poe, Edgar Allan. “Text: Edgar Allan Poe, a?? The Philosophy of Compositiona?? [Text-02], Grahama?? s Magazine, Vol. XXVIII, No. 4, April 1846, 28:163-167. ” Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore. N. p. , 5 Sept. 2011. Web. 23 Oct. 2012. . Green, Susanne. “Susies Notepad: Creative Writing. ” Susies Notepad: Creative Writing. N. p. , Sept. 2011. Web. 23 Oct. 2012. .