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The Happiest Day, the Happiest Hour Analysis

Author: Poetry of Edgar Allan Poe Type: Poetry Views: 1854

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The happiest day- the happiest hour

My sear'd and blighted heart hath known,

The highest hope of pride and power,

I feel hath flown.

Of power! said I? yes! such I ween;

But they have vanish'd long, alas!

The visions of my youth have been-

But let them pass.

And, pride, what have I now with thee?

Another brow may even inherit

The venom thou hast pour'd on me

Be still, my spirit!

The happiest day- the happiest hour

Mine eyes shall see- have ever seen,

The brightest glance of pride and power,

I feel- have been:

But were that hope of pride and power

Now offer'd with the pain

Even then I felt- that brightest hour

I would not live again:

For on its wing was dark alloy,

And, as it flutter'd- fell

An essence- powerful to destroy

A soul that knew it well.


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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

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Poe seems to be discussing the powerful emotions brought on by one feeling as though life has passed them by. The title of any poem should contain significant meaning, and this title suggests that happiness -indeed the height of happiness in Poe's life- has already occurred. Poe seems pessimistic, maybe downright certain, that he will not experience this happiness again...and this instantly provokes dread, depression, fear....any negative mix of emotions in the reader. Interesting because the title,on its own, suggests the opposite

| Posted on 2013-10-31 | by a guest

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In my opinion, this poem is about depression. Look at the second to last stanza.
\"But were that hope of pride and power
Now offer\'d with the pain
Even then I felt- that brightest hour
I would not live again:\"
Even in his \"Happiest day\", he still felt that that was going to be the only best time of his life. Edgar Poe suffered from severe depression,which would explain why most of his poems are dark.

| Posted on 2011-01-05 | by a guest

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This poem is about the start of his writing career. He wrote the poem in 1827 which was the same year that he dropped out of school and the same year he wrote and printed his first poems like "Tamerlane." The sense of pride and power describes how he overcame his foster father John Allan. John did not want Poe wasting his time becoming a writer because it was a profession looked down upon during this time period. In the second to last stanza, he writes, "But were that hope of pride and power, Now offer'd with the pain." This line is telling the reader that yes, this was a moral victory, but as a result, John Allan no longer financially supports Poe. Poe is left with nothing and has to take on the world with nothing.

| Posted on 2010-02-15 | by a guest

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I love this poem. It is one of my favourites, especially the third stanza. The poem is beautiful. I think everybody can relate to this poem in some way because I am pretty sure that everyone has looked back on their lives and wished they had pursued something, appreciated something more, and feel that oppurtunities have passed them by. Its a beautiful, beautiful poem.

| Posted on 2010-01-15 | by a guest

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the meaning to this poem varys. No one knows the true meaning only Poe knows. So stop trying to be the right one and let everyone have a say or opinion on this subject.

| Posted on 2009-05-28 | by a guest

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the poem is about voluminous pain, loss, and death. The poem is interesting. different people have different interpretations of this poem

| Posted on 2009-04-27 | by a guest

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"The Happiest Day, the Happiest Hour" is one of my favorites for multiple reasons. For starters, I feel like I can really associate with Poe through this poem, even if I don't necessarily know what he was thinking of, I can understand it in my own way. Poe seemed to almost wait for death, not just accept it. Many of his poems also seem to be written to dead friends and family.

| Posted on 2009-02-11 | by a guest

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continuation of former post that was cut off....When one thinks of a creature fluttering it is most likely struggling to fly and uplift itself. The wing being made of dark alloy cannot overcome the weight of the material to fly so it falls. In the context of heaven, the dark angel is no longer pure enough to stay in heaven; his vanity and contaminated mind has caused him to fall. The heart also has wings. A fluttering of the heart could mean the voracious beating of the heart in anxiety or in a heart attack before the final fall. The dash between “flutter’d” and “fell” causes the reader to pause and anticipate the next action in the poem, thus it is the climax. The word “fell”(22) is the falling action, crushing the reader’s hopes of a happy ending. The next line proceeds with the word “essence-powerful to destroy”(23). The dash causes the reader to focus on the effect of the word essence. An essence being a spiritual entity that exists could allude to God. “Powerful to destroy”(23) is a juxtaposition in itself. Power is the opposite of destruction but destruction is also the embodiment of power gone awry. Poe is humbled that this greater power that threatens and eventually does destroy him. “A soul that knew it well”(24) refers to God again pertaining to the immortality of the soul. Christians believe that when one dies, his or her soul belongs to God and ascends to heaven if he or she believes in Christ. If he or she does not accept Christ as savior, the soul then burns in hell for all eternity. As Poe has looked forward to death with a happy outlook toward the greatest experience of pride and glory of God, he also knows that with death comes judgment and the power of God to either condemn him or save his soul.

| Posted on 2008-12-18 | by a guest

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I don't know if this is right but this is how I interpreted this poem. It's part of an english assignment i had 2 do....
Poe is described as a person who has “darkly passionate sensibilities-a tormented and overall appreciation for the beautiful yet tragic mysteries of life.” Poe’s life was always scarred with death. At the mere age of three, he lost both his parents, thus resulting a separation from his brother and sister and into the arms of John and Frances Allans. The Allans being a wealthy family, moved to England and financed a proper education for Poe in Chelsea. After initiating success at the University of Virginia back in the U.S, Poe became involved in gambling, causing the basis of many conflicts with his foster father. After the untimely death of his wife, Virginia, Poe relied on drinking to console his woes. Such habits and second hand confrontations with death may have led Poe to write about “murder, revenge and paranoia.”
The “Happiest Day-the Happiest Hour” illuminates Poe’s sense of the eminent invasion of death. His usage of the past tense first person passive voice emanates a feeling of reluctant acceptance or submissiveness toward the coming of death, “My sear’d and blighted hearth hath known”(2). The second verse stating, “the visions of my youth have been”(7) gives insight to the reader that the author is no longer a young man. The opening line, “the happiest day-the happiest hour”(1) contrasts the entire poem although it is only repeated twice. Death is often seen as a sad, morbid, unwelcome event. The poem is like a journey of realization for the author. Commencing the poem with “my sear’d and blighted heart hath known”(2), Poe brings forth a subject prevalent inone of his other famous works, “The Tell-Tale Heart”, the heart. In “The Tell-Tale Heart,” the thudding of the dead old man’s heart, but moreover the protagonist’s guilty conscience, leads to his ultimate destruction. Here the words, “sear’d”(2) and “blighted”(2) receive negative connotations. The word “sear’d”(2) offers a variety of meanings: burnt, pierced or abstractly harmed. Blighted is associated with decay and disease which could be interpreted as a decay of humanity in this poem. Poe’s heart thus is burnt and diseased by the death of those whom he cared for. He could also be dying from an internal disease linked to his alcoholism. “Hath known/The highest hope of pride and power/I feel hath flown”(ll 2-4) gives the poem a tone of despair and futility. “Highest hope of pride and power”(3) alludes to the subject of heaven and God’s glory, evoking a lighter tone of godliness but the next line, “I feel hath flown”(4) brings the reader back down from the clouds. Up until the last verse, Poe constantly confuses the reader by toying with his/ her emotions. He begins with an optimistic view, “Of power! Said I? yes! Such I ween”(5) then immediately contrasts it with a more pessimistic, cynical statement, “but they have vanish’d long, alas!”(6) which also reflects life in itself, full of happy events, then followed by more abysmal ones.
Expanding on verse one, Poe justifies his foresaid statement by declaring that he grew in power but lost it later on, “Of power! Said I ?yes !such I ween/but they have vanish’d long, alas!”(ll 5-6). The words “power” and “ween” juxtapose each other; a child is weaned when it stops breastfeeding and is removed from its initial food and fuel source(5). In the same way, power is taken away from man when he needs it no longer, similar to when a child is weaned, he or she outgrows the infant stage. “The visions of my youth have been but let them pass”(ll 7-8) illuminates the author’s childhood. As a child, our “visions” are big; we dream to one day either emulate Neil Armstrong or save the world like Superman. “Let them pass”(8) takes on a more somber tone which is the adult realization that some dreams are not fulfilled and that there are disappointments in life. As a youth, one withholds power and feels the capacity to “do anything” but as time progresses, that power diminishes.
Poe incorporates apostrophe to grab the reader’s attention. “Pride what have I now with thee?”(9) is a statement made only by those wise enough to spurn pride away or those whom have learned that pride leads only to vanity and dissatisfactory consequences. “Another brow may even inherit/The venom thou hast pour’d on me”(ll 10-11) means that pride will take hold of another, quite possibly his descendents(note the passage of one’s life and the mention of offspring). Venom is literally the poison of snakes. Pride is the serpent that took hold of Poe like the serpent whom tempted Adam and Eve into sin and the consequence of the serpent’s grip is venom; a fatal toxin that courses through his veins until it destroys him or affects everyone around him. Venom could also represent the result of being too proud or Poe’s alcoholism. If alcohol is drunk in excess, it becomes a poison for the body and if the toxicity is high enough leads to death. The word “pour’d”(11) is significant because it hints toward large amounts of pride that consumes him. Metaphorically, a pitcher or bucket of vanity resulting from pride is “pour’d” on Poe. The thought of the pain caused by pride enrages his being, thus the reason for the line, “be still my spirit”(12) in an effort to calm himself. Restating the “happiest day-the happiest hour” reminds the author that the event of death is supposed to be joyous since it will lead him unto heaven. Such a perspective is meant to console him in his last hours or days. The dash between “mine eyes shall see”(14) and “have ever seen”(14) focuses the reader’s attention on the past and present tense contrast. Line 12 is similar in structure, “I feel-have been”(16). The old age of the author is highlighted by the placement of a present tense verb alongside a past tense particle and auxiliary verb. “The brightest glance of pride and power”(15) refers to Poe’s brief position of power and pride in this world. In the context of the universe, each lifetime is comparably short. The phrase “brightest glance”(15) specifies the nature of his personal experience. A bright glance is an oxymoron. “Brightest” depicts the clarity and understanding he now has with pride and power; they are to be yielded without abuse. The word glance is defined as a quick look barely perceiving one’s surroundings. However, the adage of the word bright gives new insight to the glance, the surroundings become clear to the author before he looks away. The glance could also be deciphered as a glance back in time; Poe’s past and former days of glory and power.
“But were that hope of pride and power/ Now offer’d with the pain”(ll 17-18) shows Poe’s longing for that hope and depicts his present condition of pain. The former verses were about his past and the present verse links to the ever-present death, “Even then I felt-that brightest hour/I would not live again”(ll 19-20). Human nature tends to have a sixth sense about their time of death. The “brightest hour” signifies his thoughts of death. One usually associates death with a bright light, thus the hour of blinding light until heaven is near for Poe. The tone of despair climaxes in the last verse of the poem.
“For on its wing was dark alloy”(21) has many connotations, continuing with the perspective of nearby heaven, the wing is of an angel or an eagle offering protection but this time, the dark alloy means death. Alloy is a mixture of impure metals of lesser value with pure metals to create a stronger substance. The dark alloy would physically make the angel with the wing a dark angel; like the devil, more stronger. The shadow of a wing is wide and dark a foreshadow to its prey on the ground below that it is near. The dark alloy foreshadows that death will swoop upon Poe as an eagle does to a field mouse. “As it flutter’d fell”(22) has powerful diction. When one thinks of a creature flutteri

| Posted on 2008-12-18 | by a guest

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This poem deviates Poe's feeling of lost and not wantin power....because with power comes problems...and he stands the wrong in having to much pride
Petra K.

| Posted on 2008-10-30 | by a guest

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This poem is of no way relating to sexuality....at all. My interpratation casts a tone of regret through the entirity of the poem, and explains longing for a joy that will never be once again known, becuase it held unbearable pain as its price. I think this poem is a self reflection upon Poe's behalf and it is not very well climatized to a universal theme. The unique life that he lead, persuades him to regret even living a finest hour because it casts him down a dark woody hill.

| Posted on 2008-10-17 | by a guest

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this poem is all about sexuality and exploring the elite skills one may have. When these skills are found this is the happiest day. However, when they are used to please another human it is the happiest hour.

| Posted on 2008-03-30 | by a guest

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This poem deviates a little from Poe's normal dark themes like death, murder and insanity. This poem's tone is more longing and regret.
I believe this poem is about getting older and more mature.
"The happiest day- the happiest hour
My sear'd and blighted heart hath known," This line shows the age and what he has experienced so far in his life.
The next two lines, "The highest hope of pride and power,
I feel hath flown."
means that he has lost his pride and he no longer wishes for power.
"And, pride, what have I now with thee?
Another brow may even inherit
The venom thou hast pour'd on me
Be still, my spirit!"
Here, he describes the problem with too much pride as "venom"

| Posted on 2008-03-05 | by a guest

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