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What is the meaning of the poem  "Alone" by Edgar Allan Poe and how does it relate...

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kiwi99good | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 13, 2012 at 10:34 PM via web

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What is the meaning of the poem  "Alone" by Edgar Allan Poe and how does it relate specifically to Poe?

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carol-davis | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 14, 2012 at 2:06 AM (Answer #1)

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The poem “Alone” by Edgar Allan Poe was not published during his lifetime.  It was not until 1875 that the poem was verified as being an authentic Poe poem written in 1830 when Poe was only twenty-one.

The poem is basically a flashback of an adult narrator looking back at his childhood. The tone of the poem is gloomy and dark, reinforced by such words as sorrow, alone, stormy, thunder, and demon.

Poe speaks about his uniqueness.  Unfortunately, he was never able to fit in and found himself melancholy throughout his childhood.  In his relationships, he was often left out.  The purpose of the poem is psychologically sound if it is true that it helps to write out what the person feels is wrong in his life. Whether it helped Poe or not, the reader is better able to understand the mystery of why Poe was miserable in his life and he wrote about the subject of loss and unhappiness.

From childhood's hour I have not been
As others were — I have not seen
As others saw — I could not bring                                                                                                          My passions from a common spring—

Poe writes explains that he was not like the other children in his outlook, his play, his enjoyment; he knew that he was not normal or happy as the others were.  His joys were not the same and did not come from the same place.

He was always alone with his pleasure and loves. The mystery that holds him together came from every experience that he has had. This formed his temperament and personality.  During his childhood and in the beginning of his stormy life, he is a part of both the good and bad experiences.  

In some ways, he was protected from the storms, the thunder and lightning, the precipice of  danger, by the sun that encompassed  him. Poe may be referring to a higher power although later in life it is said that he was an atheist.  As he looks back at his life, he sees the blue sky and heavens above; yet, one of the clouds appears like a demon. 

And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view

Poe in his life had many demons that he suppressed. From this line, the reader may wonder if Poe felt as though the devil was always at his shoulder.  His way of handling his problems was with drugs and alcohol. 

There are those people who because of a lack of security and love as a child never find happiness in their adulthood.  They may be supremely talented, have millions of dollars, but are unable to face each day and the future without a struggle. Poe was one of those strange people.  Despite his magnificent talent and even his attraction to women, he always looked for something that he did not have in his life. 

This poem is especially interesting because it was written at such a young age.  Obviously, Poe was already unhappy, unable to understand why he was so miserable, and longing to find a place or person who could help him find why he was the way he was.

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