Edgar Allan Poe Questions and Answers

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How does the poem "Alone" tie in with Edgar Allan Poe's life?  

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"Alone" is a poem told in the first-person point of view as an adult looks back on his childhood. The narrator realizes that a childhood of isolation and loneliness separated him from other children and not only affected his life as a child but continues to affect him in the present day. Much of Poe's work has an autobiographical tone to it, and "Alone" is no exception. There is evidence of isolation, rejection, and loneliness in Poe's upbringing that can very easily allow readers to believe that the "I" narrator in "Alone" is, in no small part, Poe himself. 

Many people assume Poe was an only child; in fact, he had a brother and a sister who went to live with different families when Poe's mother died. This separation from his siblings could have contributed to the sense of loneliness so prevalent throughout the narrator's childhood. 

Readers can see Poe's childhood upbringing in the very first line of the poem:

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 lost both of his natural parents at a young age (his father abandoned the family and his mother died of tuberculosis), and he went to live with John and Frances Allan. John Allan was gruff, and he never treated Poe as his natural-born son. In fact, when Allan died, he left Poe entirely out of his will in spite of being the only father figure Poe had ever known. The first stanza of the poem suggests some of the frustration Poe must have felt in his foster home that led to him feeling misunderstood and alone. 
 
The poem is believed to have been written in 1829, though it was not published during Poe's lifetime. In 1829, Poe was 20 years old, and it is the year Frances Allan died. His age, the death of his foster mother, and an escalating estrangement with his foster father make this a likely time for him to have been highly introspective and look back on his childhood to investigate how his childhood influenced his newly adult life. 
 
Though Poe never specified the autobiographical elements of the poem, readers who know even a basic biography of his life's events can begin to see how Poe might have felt fully capable of writing about isolation, loneliness, and how he felt, "...all I lov’d—I lov’d alone—."
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