Thursday, February 25, 2010

Poe's Valentines: Lenore (1843)

Lenore
by
Edgar Allan Poe

Ah, broken is the golden bowl! the spirit flown forever!
Let the bell toll!- a saintly soul floats on the Stygian river;
And, Guy de Vere, hast thou no tear?- weep now or nevermore!
See! on yon drear and rigid bier low lies thy love, Lenore!
Come! let the burial rite be read- the funeral song be sung!-
An anthem for the queenliest dead that ever died so young-
A dirge for her the doubly dead in that she died so young.

"Wretches! ye loved her for her wealth and hated her for her pride,
And when she fell in feeble health, ye blessed her- that she died!
How shall the ritual, then, be read?- the requiem how be sung
By you- by yours, the evil eye,- by yours, the slanderous tongue
That did to death the innocence that died, and died so young?"

Peccavimus; but rave not thus! and let a Sabbath song
Go up to God so solemnly the dead may feel no wrong.
The sweet Lenore hath "gone before," with Hope, that flew beside,
Leaving thee wild for the dear child that should have been thy bride.
For her, the fair and debonair, that now so lowly lies,
The life upon her yellow hair but not within her eyes
The life still there, upon her hair- the death upon her eyes.

"Avaunt! avaunt! from fiends below, the indignant ghost is riven-
From Hell unto a high estate far up within the Heaven-
From grief and groan, to a golden throne, beside the King of Heaven!
Let no bell toll, then,- lest her soul, amid its hallowed mirth,
Should catch the note as it doth float up from the damned Earth!
And I!- to-night my heart is light!- no dirge will I upraise,
But waft the angel on her flight with a Paean of old days!"


"Lenore" is a poem by the American author Edgar Allan Poe. It began as a different poem, "A Paean," and was not published as "Lenore" until 1843.

Interpretation

The poem discusses proper decorum in the wake of the death of a young woman, described as "the queenliest dead that ever died so young." The poem concludes: "No dirge shall I upraise,/ But waft the angel on her flight with a paean of old days!" Lenore's Fiance, Guy de Vere, finds it inappropriate to "mourn" the dead; rather, one should celebrate their ascension to a new world. Unlike most of Poe's poems relating to dying women, "Lenore" implies the possibility of meeting in paradise.[1]

The poem may have been Poe's way of dealing with the illness of his wife Virginia. The dead woman's name, however, may have been a reference to Poe's recently-dead brother, William Henry Leonard Poe.[2] Poetically, the name Lenore emphasizes the letter "L" sound, a frequent device in Poe's female characters including "Annabel Lee," "Eulalie," and "Ulalume."[3]

Major themes

Death of a beautiful woman (see also "Annabel Lee," "Eulalie," "The Raven," "Ulalume." In Poe's short stories, see also Berenice, Eleonora, Morella).

Publication history

The poem was first published as part of an early collection in 1831 under the title "A P├Žan". This early version was only 11 quatrains and the lines were spoken by a bereaved husband. The name "Lenore" was not included; it was not added until it was published as "Lenore" in February 1843 in The Pioneer, a periodical published by the poet and critic James Russell Lowell. Poe was paid $10 for this publication.[4] The poem had many revisions in Poe's lifetime. Its final form was published in the August 16, 1845, issue of the Broadway Journal while Poe was its editor.[5]

The original version of the poem is so dissimilar from "Lenore" that it is often considered an entirely different poem. Both are usually collected separately in anthologies.[6]

Lenore in other works

A character by the name of Lenore, thought to be a deceased wife, is central to Poe's poem "The Raven" (1845).

Roman Dirge made a comic book inspired by the poem, involving the comedic misadventures of Lenore, the Cute Little Dead Girl.

Lenore is a French model. [1]

Lenore is an overture of Beethoven. [2]

References

1.^ Kennedy, J. Gerald. Poe, Death, and the Life of Writing. Yale University Press, 1987: 69. ISBN 0300037732
2.^ Silverman, Kenneth. Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance. Harper Perennial, 1991: 202–203. ISBN 0060923318
3.^ Kopley, Richard and Kevin J. Hayes "Two verse masterworks: 'The Raven' and 'Ulalume'," as collected in The Cambridge Companion to Edgar Allan Poe, edited by Kevin J. Hayes. Cambridge University Press, 2002: 200. ISBN 0521797276
4.^ Silverman, Kenneth. Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance. Harper Perennial, 1991: 201. ISBN 0060923318
5.^ Sova, Dawn B. Edgar Allan Poe: A to Z. Checkmark Books, 2001: 130. ISBN 081604161X
6.^ Hoffman, Daniel. Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe. Louisiana State University Press, 1972: 68. ISBN 0807123218

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