Saturday, March 7, 2015

Poe Mania!

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 wingèd 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 kinsmen 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.
- Edgar Allen Poe, "Annabel Lee"


FreeThinke said...

This 1901 setting by Arthur Somervell sung here by Lawrence Tibbett (link below) evokes a much deeper, more poignant understanding of Poe’s verse than the flat-lining monotonous chant in the video.

Tibbett’s performance is not the greatest I’ve ever heard, but it’s the only recorded version I could find on YouTube.

Arthur Somervell was much closer to Poe’s time than this group you found, whose “modern,” deadhead approach does a great disservice to the extravagantly romantic spirit of the poem.

-FJ said...

Another interesting composition. Thanks, FT!

FreeThinke said...

Is Poe's Annabel Lee autobiographical? –– fanciful? –– symbolic?

Does it relate specifically to the poet, himself, a specific chapter of his life, or is it meant to apply universally to the sorrow that invariably accompanies all lost loves -- real or imaginary?

Does it evoke empathy, or merely pity?

Is it primarily an exercise in self-pity, or did Poe mean to evoke empathy for all who suffer as his narrator, apparently, does?

FreeThinke said...



______ Ulalume: A Ballad _______

The skies they were ashen and sober;
__ The leaves they were crispéd 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.

Here once, through an alley Titanic,
__ Of cypress, I roamed with my Soul—
__ Of cypress, with Psyche*, my Soul.
These were days when my heart was volcanic
__ As the scoriac* rivers that roll—
__ As the lavas that restlessly roll
Their sulphurous currents down Yaanek*
__ In the ultimate climes of the pole—
That groan as they roll down Mount Yaanek
__ In the realms of the boreal pole.

Our talk had been serious and sober,
__ But our thoughts they were palsied and sere—
__ Our memories were treacherous and sere—
For we knew not the month was October,
__ And we marked not the night of the year—
__ (Ah, night of all nights in the year!)
We noted not the dim lake of Auber—
__ (Though once we had journeyed down here)—
We remembered not the dank tarn of Auber,
__ Nor the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.


FreeThinke said...

PART TWO: Ulalume, a Ballad

And now, as the night was senescent
__ And star-dials pointed to morn—
__ As the star-dials hinted of morn—
At the end of our path a liquescent
__ And nebulous lustre was born,
Out of which a miraculous crescent
__ Arose with a duplicate horn—
Astarte's* bediamonded crescent
__ Distinct with its duplicate horn.

And I said—"She is warmer than Dian:*
__ She revels in a region of sighs:
She has seen that the tears are not dry on
__ These cheeks, where the worm never dies,
And has come past the stars of the Lion
__ To point us the path to the skies—
__ To the Lethean* peace of the skies—
Come up, in despite of the Lion,
__ To shine on us with her bright eyes—
Come up through the lair of the Lion,
__ With love in her luminous eyes."

But Psyche, uplifting her finger,
__ Said—"Sadly this star I mistrust—
__ Her pallor I strangely mistrust:—
Oh, hasten! oh, let us not linger!
__ Oh, fly!—let us fly!—for we must."
In terror she spoke, letting sink her
__ Wings till they trailed in the dust—
In agony sobbed, letting sink her
__ Plumes till they trailed in the dust—
__ Till they sorrowfully trailed in the dust.

I replied—"This is nothing but dreaming:
__ Let us on by this tremulous light!
__ Let us bathe in this crystalline light!
Its Sybilic* splendor is beaming
__ With Hope and in Beauty to-night:—
__ See!—it flickers up the sky through the night!
Ah, we safely may trust to its gleaming,
__ And be sure it will lead us aright—
We safely may trust to a gleaming
__ That cannot but guide us aright,
__ Since it flickers up to Heaven through the night."

Thus I pacified Psyche and kissed her,
__ And tempted her out of her gloom—
__ And conquered her scruples and gloom:
And we passed to the end of the vista,
__ But were stopped by the door of a tomb—
__ By the door of a legended tomb;
And I said—"What is written, sweet sister,
__ On the door of this legended tomb?"
__ She replied—"Ulalume—Ulalume—
__ 'Tis the vault of thy lost Ulalume!"

Then my heart it grew ashen and sober
__ As the leaves that were crispèd and sere—
__ As the leaves that were withering and sere,
And I cried—"It was surely October
__ On this very night of last year
__ That I journeyed—I journeyed down here—
      That I brought a dread burden down here—
__ On this night of all nights in the year,
__ Oh, what demon has tempted me here?
Well I know, now, this dim lake of Auber—
__ This misty mid region of Weir—
Well I know, now, this dank tarn of Auber—
__ In the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir."

Said we, then—the two, then—"Ah, can it
__ Have been that the woodlandish ghouls—
__ The pitiful, the merciful ghouls—
To bar up our way and to ban it
__ From the secret that lies in these wolds*—
__ From the thing that lies hidden in these wolds—
Had drawn up the spectre of a planet
__ From the limbo of lunary souls—
This sinfully scintillant planet
__ From the Hell of the planetary souls?"

~ Edgar Allen Poe (1809-1849)

-FJ said...

Those who would evoke the envy of the gods are tragic figures, ala Ajax.

And tragedy creates heroes and exhorts the virtuous to emulate them.

-FJ said...

As for answers to your questions... I cannot say.

FreeThinke said...

WORDS one might find PUZZLING in ULALUME

Auber - Poe’s fanciful name for his “dim lake” - possibly a reference to French composer D. F. E. Auber, who wrote 48 light operas.

Weir -probably a reference to Robert Walter Weir, a landscape painter of the Hudson River School, literally a low dam, a wattle placed across a stream to regulate current or to catch or hold fish

Psyche - A Hellenistic personification of the soul as female, or sometimes as a butterfly.

scoriac - a rough cindery crust on top of solidified lava, refuse from smelted ore; slag

Yaanek - Nordic name for silver

Astarte - goddess of fertiluty and sexuality

Dian - poetic version of Diana, the huntress, an ancient province in Hunan, China, a village in Semnan Province, Iran

Lethean - poetic reference to Lethe, a river in Hades whose water produces forgetfulness of life in earth

Some of these definitions may not truly clarify Poe's actual intent.

All interpretation of poetry tends to be largely speculative, and may say more about the mind of the interpreter than than poet.

FreeThinke said...

Ulalume makes possibly the most masterful use of ASSONANCE in English literature.

Without understanding the literal definition of a single word the music of Poe's work speaks clearly and evocatively to any sensitive ear. In fact the sheer beauty of the sound of his poetry most probably conveys its meaning more powerfully than the words, themselves.

FreeThinke said...

In asking the questions I posed above I was not interested so much in receiving a literal transfer of factual information as i was of stimulating an imaginative, speculative response.

Poetry should put one in touch with the wonder of imaginary realms that may exist only in Thought.

A dry compilation of statistics may well be the absolute antithesis of poetic insight.

INSIGHT and IMAGINATION, however, are the win wellsprings of every great discovery that built the worthiest aspects of Civilization.

The blind, beetle-shelled modern Ethos that worships Factual Data as it eschews the sublime Beauty, Order, Refinement and Spirituality found in Art, Architecture, Poetry, Music, Literature, Invention, and genuine (non-tendentious) Scientific Research, has had a stupendous DULLING EFFECT that threatens to remove all traces of DYNAMISM from society if left unchecked.

GOOD Poetry, Art and Music are not just absorbing pastimes for sensitive souls -- a refuge for those who seek temporary escape from "reality" -- they are VITAL COMPONENTS of a healthy, questing upwardly mobile society.