Type: Literary Analysis
Pages: 4 | Words: 964
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Edgar Allan Poe and Emily Dickinson: Poetry Analysis

Edgar Allan Poe and Emily Dickinson have many similarities in their poetry and lifestyle. Nevertheless, there are many differences in style and views. Both of them are great representatives of the American Romantic movement having their own tastes and personal opinions. Living during the same period of time and region, they have distinct self-expressions that do have not as much in common as they could have. In this paper, we will try to compare and contrast Poe and Dickinson. As an example we will describe their two poems – I Died for Beauty by Emily Dickinson and Annabelle Lee by Edgar Allan Poe.

Edgar Allan Poe and Emily Dickinson: Biography Comparison

Firstly it should be noticed that two poets – Edgar Allan Poe and Emily Dickens have many similarities in their lives. Both of them were born in Boston, the state of Massachusetts in 1809 and both of them lived in England and America since then. During their life, poets were interested in similar things like history and literature. Living at the same time and having many obstacles and losses in their lives, they are isolated from the real world. Emily Dickinson lived like an outcast in society. She has chosen solitude as a refuge and salvation from the violent and cruel world. She was afraid of new acquaintances and friendships because she did not want to lose the connection between two people and break her heart. Edgar Allan Poe had other methods to escape from the real world. He used alcohol and drugs to destroy himself slowly in the form of suicide. Poe died at the age of forty as a result of conscious and deliberate suicide.

“I Died for Beuty” by Emily Dickinson and “Annabelle Le” by Edgar Allan Poe

Speaking about their poetry and common features, we can say that their works act like pictures that appear in the readers’ minds. Their poems are about darkness mostly and loneliness. Both of them write about sorrow, loss, and death. That is why, it is clear that they worked in one Gothic written style. Dark poems, short stories, and poetry by Edgar Allan Poe are mystical and depressive. He, reflecting his point of view, describes macabre and pure beauty as a nightmare and shows pain through it. Detective stories and romantic episodes intrigue and inspire the reader.

For example, in a poem Annabel Lee, he writes about love and loneliness “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 wind came out of the cloud by night, Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee” (X.J. Kennedy, Dana Gioia, Poe, 633). Here, feelings of separation, desperation, and loss are shown as inevitable, but sad. Poe`s perception of beauty is shown in depressive moods and their decadent beauty. Emily Dickinson uses similar associations to put them in Poetry.

For example in the poem I Died For Beauty, she states “I died for beauty, but was scarce Adjusted in a tomb, When one who died for truth was lain In an adjoining room” (Vendler, Dickinson, 448). She expresses her sadness but also the tragic beauty of death and art. In her isolation, she created and described her own perception of beauty and fear.

Edgar Allan Poe and Emily Dickinson: Poems Comparison

In accordance to differentiate them, we can state that Poe, not being an outsider, had a wider range of themes and ways of expressing this. Emily Dickinson wrote straight from her own observations, which is why, her poetry is more personalized and subjective. Emily expressed herself in artistic clear language, while Poe showed the depth of his feelings through different allusions and complicated metaphors. As a woman, Dickinson wrote more about her perception of beauty and accentuated this. When she tries to reach those feelings using her own imagination, Allan Poe creates a mystic dreamy world that absorbs a reader.

Comparing mentioned earlier two poems, we can say, that, Poe`s poetry is more picturesque, as he describes surroundings and imaginary characters. Annabel Lee is his last major poem in which he shows his real dark side. It is an intense poem about a young girl whom he loves and loses. Starting like a fairy tale, he accentuates their feeling of strong love. Their parting is very painful to him. The last phrase in this poem “the sounding sea” makes a reader think of the booming roar of the ocean, strangely and mystically terrifying and cold. There is no happy end just a sense of broken heart.

Dickinson, in I Died for Beauty, speaking from herself, shows her attitude not focusing on anything else. “Although this poem gives no specifics as to how the speaker and her neighbor in the tomb died for Beauty and Truth, Dickinson`s poetry as a whole gives evidence of why these ideas are worth dying for” (Leiter, 94). Dickinson, according to Cameron, asks the reader to accept the state that she is already dead (Cameron, 209).

Edgar Allan Poe and Emily Dickinson: Summary

To sum up, we can say, that Emily Dickinson and Edgar Allan Poe, having tortured souls and bad memories from the past described the beauty of their inner world. Their dark philosophical and metaphorical way to express themselves is a key point in their poetry. They highlighted similar themes of fear, death, and depression. Poe accentuated more on visualizing fairy tale and nightmare scenes while Emily Dickinson made an accent on her own perception of beauty and feelings of sorrow and depression. Being one of the most influential and great representatives of American literature of the 19th century, they highlighted decadence themes, despair, and a macabre inner world.


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