illustrated portrait of American author of gothic fiction Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe

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What is the meaning of Edgar Allan Poe's To F--?

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Poe’s poem is thought to addressed to Frances Osgood, a prominent poet in New York with whom Poe famously flirted – probably platonically -- for several years. The gist of the poem is fairly clear: the poet must follow a “drear path” through his life’s struggles, and the only “solace” he has is in his dreams of his beloved. The second stanza goes on to further develop the idea of “F.” as refuge. The poet imagines her as a beautiful island, cut off from the world by stormy seas, yet nevertheless enjoying “serenest skies.” Characteristically (for Poe), the beloved is less an actual woman than an idea, or feeling; his love for her has less to do with any aspect of her character than how his memory of her is soothing his nervous disposition.

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