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For Annie Analysis

Author: Poetry of Edgar Allan Poe Type: Poetry Views: 2144

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Thank Heaven! the crisis-

The danger is past,

And the lingering illness

Is over at last-

And the fever called "Living"

Is conquered at last.

Sadly, I know

I am shorn of my strength,

And no muscle I move

As I lie at full length-

But no matter!-I feel

I am better at length.

And I rest so composedly,

Now, in my bed

That any beholder

Might fancy me dead-

Might start at beholding me,

Thinking me dead.

The moaning and groaning,

The sighing and sobbing,

Are quieted now,

With that horrible throbbing

At heart:- ah, that horrible,

Horrible throbbing!

The sickness- the nausea-

The pitiless pain-

Have ceased, with the fever

That maddened my brain-

With the fever called "Living"

That burned in my brain.

And oh! of all tortures

That torture the worst

Has abated- the terrible

Torture of thirst

For the naphthaline river

Of Passion accurst:-

I have drunk of a water

That quenches all thirst:-

Of a water that flows,

With a lullaby sound,

From a spring but a very few

Feet under ground-

From a cavern not very far

Down under ground.

And ah! let it never

Be foolishly said

That my room it is gloomy

And narrow my bed;

For man never slept

In a different bed-

And, to sleep, you must slumber

In just such a bed.

My tantalized spirit

Here blandly reposes,

Forgetting, or never

Regretting its roses-

Its old agitations

Of myrtles and roses:

For now, while so quietly

Lying, it fancies

A holier odor

About it, of pansies-

A rosemary odor,

Commingled with pansies-

With rue and the beautiful

Puritan pansies.

And so it lies happily,

Bathing in many

A dream of the truth

And the beauty of Annie-

Drowned in a bath

Of the tresses of Annie.

She tenderly kissed me,

She fondly caressed,

And then I fell gently

To sleep on her breast-

Deeply to sleep

From the heaven of her breast.

When the light was extinguished,

She covered me warm,

And she prayed to the angels

To keep me from harm-

To the queen of the angels

To shield me from harm.

And I lie so composedly,

Now, in my bed,

(Knowing her love)

That you fancy me dead-

And I rest so contentedly,

Now, in my bed,

(With her love at my breast)

That you fancy me dead-

That you shudder to look at me,

Thinking me dead.

But my heart it is brighter

Than all of the many

Stars in the sky,

For it sparkles with Annie-

It glows with the light

Of the love of my Annie-

With the thought of the light

Of the eyes of my Annie.


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

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| Posted on 2017-06-28 | by a guest

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Go to Goodreads. Look under The Raven and Other Poems or The Complete Stories and Poems by Edgar Allan Poe. Look for the review by n. sadel. "For Annie" is about a laudanum addict.
This site didn't post my whole interpretation.

| Posted on 2016-04-03 | by Spandrell

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Go to G00dreads to read it. Apparently, they won't allow me to type in another website.

| Posted on 2016-04-03 | by a guest

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They didn't put my whole interpretation on here. They cut it way short. Sorry. If you want to read it go to I have it there under The Raven and Other Poems and the Complete Stories and Poems. Look for the review by n. sadel. Okay. Enjoy. "For Annie" is about a laudanum addict!!

| Posted on 2016-04-03 | by Spandrell

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For Annie
By Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe's poem "For Annie" is a puzzle. Poe does not give us the solution to this problem. He gives only the clues, so that we can solve the mystery on our own.
The poem "For Annie" is about a laudanum addict who, once again, obtains his heavenly vision (Annie). It is being told through the addict's thoughts in the present tense. He is not speaking to anyone.
The poem begins with the narrator already having ingested the laudanum. This can be understood by moving the sixth stanza to the beginning: "oh! of all tortures that torture the worst has abated [subsided]—the terrible torture of thirst [craving] for the naphthaline river of Passion accurst [laudanum]:—I have drank of a water that quenches all thirst." The narrator has drunk the laudanum. Now (first stanza), he is relieved that his withdrawal symptoms are over. They have been conquered. He thanks Heaven for this. The word "living" is in quotation marks because an addict's "living" consists of spending all of their time craving their drug. When they are without their drug, they live with a fever (withdrawal symptoms).
It should be noted that the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge was addicted to opium. In a letter to his publisher, Joseph Cottle, he writes: "I was seduced into the ACCURSED Habit ignorantly – I had been almost bed ridden for many months with swelling in my knees – in a medical journal I happily met with an account of a cure performed in a similar case . . . by rubbing in of Laudanum, at the same time taking a given dose internally – it acted like a charm, like a miracle!"
ACCURSED Habit is related to Passion accurst.
Also, in a letter to his brother George, Coleridge writes: "Laudanum gave me repose, not sleep; but you, I believe, know how divine that repose is, what a spot of enchantment, a green spot of fountain and flowers and trees in the very heart of a waste of sands! God be praised, the matter has been absorbed; and I am now recovering apace, and enjoy that newness of sensation from the fields, the air, and the sun which makes convalescence almost repay one for disease."
"Repose" is mentioned later in the poem.
Because the sixth stanza does not actually start the poem, we will return to it and explore it in a little more detail shortly.
Next (second stanza), the laudanum has deprived the narrator of his strength, but he doesn't care because he feels better lying down. He is resting so composedly (third stanza), and he imagines if anyone were to look at him, they might think he is dead because he is motionless.
The narrator then goes on (fourth and fifth stanzas) to think more about his withdrawal symptoms having been conquered. He is no longer moaning and groaning or sighing and sobbing. His emotional disturbances have been quieted, with his quickly beating heart. Laudanum significantly slows the beating of one's heart. He also thinks about the sickness, the nausea, and the pitiless pain having ceased, with the fever. These are all symptoms of laudanum withdrawal.
Now, we return to the most important stanza of the whole poem—the sixth. This is the first time water is mentioned in the poem. The narrator is no longer craving the naphthaline river of Passion accurst: "I have drank of a water that quenches all thirst." A naphthaline river does not exist. Naphthaline is a toxic hydrocarbon that comes from coal tar. It is flammable. This is a reference to the Phlegethon river, a river of fire that surrounds the Underworld (Hades). Laudanum is a solution of alcohol and opium. It is flammable. Passion accurst means cursed love. The water is cursed because it is made in the fiery river of the Underworld, and when drunk, it "loves" you while you are under its influence, but eventually the effects will wear off. This then makes the user want more, and so they become addicted, constantly thirsting for this water. When the addict does not "quench their thirst," they become sick and experience withdrawal symptoms. (fifth stanza: "with the fever called "Living" that "burned" in my brain.")
The "love" that a user experiences has a spiritual quality to it. References to the spiritual are made several times in the poem starting from the very beginning. This spiritual quality becomes more apparent later.
The next stanza (seventh) reinforces the idea that the water comes from the Underworld: "a water that flows with a lullaby sound from a spring but a very few feet underground—from a cavern not very far down under ground." Notice the poem is written using an amphibrachic rhythm. This gives it its "lullaby sound." This lullaby rhythm goes with the narrator's drugged state of mind.
The narrator now (eighth stanza) thinks if anyone were in his room, they might say that it is gloomy and his bed is too small, but they would be foolish in saying that because they would not be in his state of mind: "For man never slept in a different bed—And, to sleep, you [one] must slumber in just such a bed." Remember, he is high. When he mentions sleep and slumber, we should not think he is literally talking about sleeping. He is only mentioning being under the influence of laudanum. If they were under the influence of this drug, they would not be foolishly saying the room is gloomy and the bed is too small. They wouldn't even care.
These next three stanzas go together. They are about the narrator's laudanum visions just before he falls asleep.
The ninth stanza mentions a spirit. The narrator uses the word tantalized to describe it. This is another reference to water and the Underworld. The word tantalize comes from Greek Tantalos, King of Phrygia. He was punished in the afterlife by being sent to Tartarus, an area in the Underworld. He was forced to stand in a river. Every time he tried to grab fruit from any of the tree branches that were above him, the wind would blow them out of his reach, and the water would disappear every time he tried to get something to drink. The word tantalize means to torment or to tease and disappoint someone's expectations. This fits in with the narrative of a drug addict who becomes excited because they finally acquired their drug. They get high, and they feel good, but they are repeatedly disappointed because the effects wear off, then they need to get more before their withdrawal symptoms return.

Now, let's move on and talk about the narrator's spirit. The word spirit, in this sense, refers to his mind. (Dr. Charles Alston, 1683-1760, was a Scottish botanist who wrote in one of his papers about how opium was believed to raise the spirits [mood] and relax the muscles.) The narrator's spirit blandly reposes. He is not sleeping. (Coleridge wrote: "Laudanum gave me repose, not sleep.") He is still conscious. His mind is just pleasantly resting, "forgetting, or never regretting, its roses—its old agitations of myrtles and roses." He is forgetting, or he doesn't care, about his old agitations—the moaning, groaning, sighing, sobbing, sickness, nausea, pain, and fever. The myrtles and roses refer to his agitations. The rose connection is obvious. Roses have thorns. A thorn is something that causes discomfort. The word myrtle comes from Greek myrrha (myrrh), which comes from Arabic murr, meaning "was bitter." Myrtles are associated with Aphrodite, but they are also associated with Demeter, the goddess of agriculture. They are sacred to Demeter. Another plant that is sacred to Demeter is the poppy plant. The poppy plant is where opium comes from. Demeter is sometimes depicted holding poppy flowers, and she is sometimes referred to as a poppy goddess. Also, Demeter's daughter is Persephone, queen of the Underworld.
The poem goes on (tenth stanza) to tell us why he is forgetting or doesn't care about his old agitations. The narrator's spirit (mind) imagines a holier (spiritually pure) o

| Posted on 2016-04-03 | by a guest

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He gives thanks that his "lingering illness," life, is finally over. He is now beyond pain and suffering. But no one, he says, should think pityingly of him. After all, everyone will lie in the same bed he does. Moreover, his death is not final. As his lover, Annie, looks on him and cries because she thinks he is dead, he declares that his heart and his thoughts are more alive than ever, for they are filled with the sight of Annie's love. Though dead, he lives on because of her love.

| Posted on 2015-02-05 | by a guest

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I've believe it is much more likely a recounting of a fever he had that Nancy Richmond helped him recover from. Annie in the poem is Nancy, it was an odd nickname he had for her. After Nancy's husband died she legally made the name change.

| Posted on 2014-09-19 | by a guest

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This is obviously about a man who committed suicide by consuming naphthalene. Naphthalene has a strong smell (hence the stanza about the smell of pansies), and the symptoms described line up well. "Annie" is probably his wife or girlfriend, and she is depressed that he committed suicide. The "narrow bed" is his coffin.

| Posted on 2014-02-09 | by a guest

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I think that the narrator has killed himself by drinking poison (I have drunk a water that quenches all thirsts) and he is lying in a coffin when he is saying that his bed is narrow and "to sleep, you must slumber In such a bed." The main reason he commit suicide is because without Annie he finds life like a fever. Then he is saying that even though he is dead he is happier than any living man because he is with his deceased Annie. This is what my teacher has explained to me when I suggested the meaning of the story was a murder suicide.

| Posted on 2013-10-08 | by a guest

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i find this poem really close to the story of Finnick and Annie in the hunger ganes trilogy, annie was finnick\'s love interest and they get married just before he goes to the capitol where he died an awfull death. Also, president Snow used to send those white roses with a quite weird smell to his enemies and he is the beholder that wanted him dead. All in all, this is a beautiful poem by a great artist!

| Posted on 2013-03-11 | by a guest

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I think the person edgar allen poe was personafiying was already dead and he was in his casket at his funeral and thats why his bed is so narrow and why when you slumber (die) you have to be in one of these beds (casket) and annie i the happyness in death not like there is any thats my take but hey what do i know im only in the 7th grade

| Posted on 2012-12-06 | by a guest

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Im probably younger than all who posted before me but i feel that the poem is about a man who consumes poison and wants to commit suicide because he feels death is way better than life itself. I think Annie is death...i think he described death as her. And when he says that Annie is caressing him i think it is him saying death is making him feel good about dying.

| Posted on 2012-11-16 | by a guest

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I like to think Poe is describing the afterglow of lovemaking, not death by murder or suicide. Think of that afterglow and read the poem again. It casts a different slant to it.

| Posted on 2012-02-28 | by a guest

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he has conquered the \'illness\' (life) by taking a lethal dose of napthalene, and as he is on his deathbed, he is thinking of his lover annie. death is experienced as a cure, as opposed to the common view of it being the illness. he dies with pleasant thoughts and smells, and is relieved to escape life.

| Posted on 2011-12-02 | by a guest

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he has conquered the \'illness\' (life) by taking a lethal dose of napthalene, and as he is on his deathbed, he is thinking of his lover annie. death is experienced as a cure, as opposed to the common view of it being the illness. he dies with pleasant thoughts and smells, and is relieved to escape life.

| Posted on 2011-12-02 | by a guest

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Three of you have missed the enjambment in \"Drowned in a bath.\" It\'s followed by \"of the tresses of Annie.\" He claims to be drowning in her hair. There\'s no murder here.

| Posted on 2011-06-01 | by a guest

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This poem is best left at this -
A man has just intentionally taken a lethal dose of something in order to kill himself. While he is laying on his soon-to-be deathbed waiting for death to come, he spends his final moments fantasizing about a woman he loves (Annie), and he dies contently in the embrace of Annie\'s love.

| Posted on 2011-04-12 | by a guest

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My idea is a little bit different than the previous ones. I agree that the main hero is dying because of a poison he took himself, but I think that before commiting a suicide he murdered Annie. As you see \"A dream of the truth and the beauty of Annie-\" are \"Drowned in a bath\". It means that he murdered her because she knew something she shouldn\'t know,I mean something he wanted to hide. So, he got rid of her by making her drown in a bath. Then, he commits a suicide by taking a drug or some other substance which makes him delirious and lunatic just before the death and therefore he sees in his mind Annie caressing him, but in reality she is already dead.

| Posted on 2011-02-03 | by a guest

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I sometimes wonder if we don't read too much into the works of great writers. Why could this not be just what it appears to be: a poem about someone who has either just died, free from the pain of a fevered illness, content in the love of his "Annie", or someone "between worlds", as it were - *going* to die - but otherwise in the same mental state?

| Posted on 2009-12-23 | by a guest

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Overenveloped theories aside, here's the main plotline of the story. Main character, is dead (obviously) and reflecting on his desicion of suicide, deciding it was a wonderful conclusion on his part. The main character, who killed himself by drinking poison (the drink that quenches all thirsts)is reflecting on the way that death came to him, by a lost soul he once loved (Annie, who drowned in a bath) rocking him to sleep, and bringing him away. Yet another gift from the ever charming Eadgar Allen

| Posted on 2009-06-10 | by a guest

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Annie is the culminating thought of death. Annie is happiness. Annie is death.

| Posted on 2009-05-13 | by a guest

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it is about a dead man that likes death better than life. he finds it more appealing than living. well i really dont get the whole annie thing though. And i dont understand what the heck the 2 people above are saying. so what i want to know without a long bull shit "analysis" just tell me in plain words what the poem is about!!!

| Posted on 2009-04-15 | by a guest

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For Annie is actually a deep spiritual journey into the mind of the unknown. By combining spirituality and physicality the mentality of Poe is brought out. Dracula could be seen as a parallel yet in theory alex gillett's land of the living duck is also key.

| Posted on 2009-03-24 | by a guest

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I believe the line about people passing and may think he was dead is ironic. I think he is dead and that it's the best that's happened to it, and he's rejecting the implication that death is associated with any sort of sorrow or loss. To him death feels like living, and he looks back on life as if it should've been named death. I'm not a very depthful person I suppose, at least not as much as the person below me, but I believe I'd just throw my two bits in.

| Posted on 2008-09-23 | by a guest

.: The Correct Title :.

I apologize for the brevity of this correction to the previous post. I wish to correct the title. The correct title is "Why We Look So Hard: For Annie" by Vicente Reyes. The source is www.thepoetsdiary.com. Let it not be said that Mr. Reyes ever called a work of his "The Perfect Drug", though if Love is the theme some would make that argument.

It appears to me that Reyes himself is Poesque in his breadth of perception, which is a frightening concept to one who has read his love poetry. Yet it is said that there is but a hairline between the love and hate, between life and death, and perhaps in this case between the ridiculous and the sublime. I agree with Reyes' discourse on the poem when he says that Poe's Annie makes him "feel chills and a subtle desire to vomit". Anyone who has ever had to inhale ether or some such despicable solvent at a dentist's office or prior to surgery or in the workplace (a common event for painter's) has got to agree. It is a mind bending and stomach wrenching response that is evoked. I believe that Poe took what seems to be a simple device, the law of opposites and decided to shock the reader with the same. Oh to say that death is the cure for life! Dramatic, indeed. Yet generations of students have since been condemned to explore his apparent (note the italics on this word) association of the erotic with the macabre. I disagree that this was the intended effect. I believe that with the same passion with which Poe's protaganist seems to be cursing life he is also decrying passion itself, of the romantic sort that we living breathing quite hot blooded humans feel. In fact, Reyes coined a phrase "hurricane fever" [though for the moment I do not recall which poem it is, it is found in his online collection at www.thepoetsdiary.com] to describe that very passion. Perhaps poets share a universal view of love as some sort of fever, though not all would argue that Poe suggested death is the remedy. In fact it may appear Poe is laying the basis of the reader's resistance to the horrible basis of the poem as a cure in itself. It becomes an optimistic piece, a philosophical lesson, if on reading Poe's Annie one says "Ah, I am so blessed to be alive to love and breathe and move and where is my Annie?". While I agree with the wonderful Analysis made by Reyes and the depth of his perception (after all, that reference to naphtalene seems to have been missed by other comentators for over a hundred years - since Poe lived and died in the United States), I believe that Poe's perfect drug may have been love. How fitting that Reyes too is an American romantic poet. My response was inspired by reading the previous comment and when I did a search for other works by Vicente Reyes I found his poetry at thepoetsdiary.com. If love is not the perfect drug then maybe poetry itself is a close second, since we are forever obsessed with it.

| Posted on 2005-01-28 | by Approved Guest

.: The Perfect Drug :.

Edgar Allen Poe's stance in his macabre love poem For Annie is so mad as to have the touch of genius in its eccentricity. In this poetic pose Poe has no equal, antecedent, or descendant in the annals of world literature, for he takes the grossest imagery and endues it with the quality of the Romantic. The reader is taunted with the simplistic sing-song rhyme of the first verse and jabbed with the concept that life is a fever. Obviously the parallel is that a warm body is alive and one that is cool is not alive, so if life is like a fever symptomized by hot blood then Poe's protagonist is speaking from the dead. However, as all three fates would have it, there is a twist to Poe's syllabic string, and that makes for a transcendent level of imagery.

It is a not obscurely written clue in Poe's verse that we find as we continue. His reference to a "naphthalene" river is absolutely fantastic in that there are no rivers of such substance, which is an expensively refined chemical solvent such as we find in many products that are considered toxic if inhaled. Poe has said elsewhere that his device was to focus on words leading up to even ONE word for maximum effect. As a writer he was and remains a writer's writer. His invention of the detective story was a direct result of his fascination with details and what details say and do to the observer. In this case his poem has the ephemeral quality of an ether-soaked handkerchief, which is wet one instant and dry in seconds. He commences by saying "sadly" he laments the loss of physical strength, as when the ether is but beginning to take its potentially deadly effect. The mad rush of living seems as far away to him as when the addict looks back on his frustration after his dose, after his fix, which is a totally different world by virtue of the drug than when he can only feel his need for the same. Instantly Poe hypnotizes (or to coin a phrase, hypno-anesthetizes) the unaware reader by suggesting that he is resting "composedly", a suddenly more neutral state than the sadness of a moment ago. It takes longer to write it than to read it, but the time flow is close enough to synchronize.

Poe seems to relish in his deadpan recital that he could pass as if dead to anyone seeing him in his trance. The cue for the reader to follow Poe's stream of consciousness up his ethereal stairway to heaven is found in his invitation to think at more than one level. When he says "no muscle I move as I lie at length" he makes reference to his physical space by the word "length" but in the following line he says "But no matter!-I feel / I am better at length". Here Poe is almost but for the punctuation saying that he feels no matter, but even if it is not a metaphysical statement he clearly says he is better at "length", a reference to time. Better at length, but in looking back in the short term he refers to the horrors of his being without his fix, to the "moaning and groaning, the sighing the sobbing ... the sickness, the nausea, the pitiless pain ... ", all of which sound like the torture of the addicts withdrawal symptoms. It is said that the intoxicating love of or for some women can be compared to a drug and its addiction, but I suspect Poe may be doing the reverse in his piece overall. At any rate, he declares that for the moment he has "drunk of a water that quenches all thirst", a water that flows with a lullaby sound. It is in the preceding lines that he says the thirst has been for the "naphthaline river" [nowadays we spell it "naphthalene"] of Passion accurst. It is not the passion of the wolf but that of the monk that he seems to invoke though, since he goes on to speak of how his "tantalized spirit" remembers former material attachments, that passion which is an attachment to material things (things made of matter). Those are the "old agitations" that his spirt refuses to regret, and there is no repentance found in Poe's protagonist.

But he can forget the former passion as he now perceives what he calls a holier odor. He has gone from past roses to present rosemary and pansy, quite a sniffing journey. He cites his spirit as lying "blandly", blandly now--- no longer in ecstasy--- but upon perception of the holier odor it "lies happily [bold type mine ] in many a dream of the truth and the beauty of Annie". About thirty years ago there was an entire generation speaking of truth found in the mists of the mind when under the influence of LSD or other psychoactive substances. Drugs may or may not have contributed to Poe's demise, certainly they have contributed to the demise of many. One modern day singer, Neil Young, has even sung about heroin, saying that he has seen "the needle and the damage done ... but every junkie is like a setting sun". It is the nature of the human mind to be egocentric, so when a drugged brain perceives itself in the center of the universe it can find wonderful truth in believing the universe revolves around it.

Let us note that Poe has only just now in the poems chronological development mentioned Annie as either a woman or as a pseudonym for his intoxicated bliss. Instantly, like Alice through the looking glass, it is another image that comes to mind. The reader's consciousness is already firmly planted in the body of a man who is lying like one dead (but no matter, he can still feel even if he cannot move). Now he says he is bathing in dreams of truth and beauty, but he is drowning in a bath of the tresses of Annie. This image makes sense if Annie is a lover with long hair, whose embrace of this apparently dead man is effected by her leaning over him. It can seem to a man that his woman's long hair is like a gentle rain on him. Yet this image is not accurate nor literal, for it is a device used by Poe to speak of momentary contact with the beloved. He says he FALLS asleep ON her breast (and deeply to sleep) FROM the heaven of her breast. It is a very quick touch. And it is over. Like when someone leans over a coffin to gaze upon the departing one.

From this point on the poet is just cleaning up. His poem has reached its climax, now he says he lies "composedly ... in [his] bed (knowing her love)". He rests contentedly now, he says, with her love at his breast. Is it a white death flower? I can only imagine a very dry handkerchief fallen from the hand of a sleeping man in some narrow cot somewhere. His dismal surroundings are worlds away from where his mind lies. He could be in a cheap hotel room but his thoughts are in heavenly chambers. The final verse of the poem seems stilted and patched on, as if added the morning after. The same heart that was earlier the source of "horrible throbbing" is now rather described as "brighter than all of the many stars in the sky". It glows, says Poe, it sparkles with Annie. It glows with the light of the love of his Annie, with the thought of the light of the eyes of Annie. The necromantic imagery of the dead and the living in love is but a pallid backdrop for Poe's brush of horror. In a departing flash of wit Poe thus says that the glow was here--- but it is now gone! Now we are only left with the THOUGHT of that light in the eyes of his Annie. It is a delicious contrast, for the light in Annies eyes is perceived as bright as a golden pinpoint of a star on the black velvet heavens. It is not the sleepy mind of Poe thus represented, but the opposite, the alert Poe. That light is to Poes current state of consciousness like mountain peaks are to the depths of a valley. By reverse deduction, using Poes famed technique, we can only conclude that his highs must be as extreme as his lows. It is known that the effects of certain substances have a defined effect on the pupils. I think of Poe's Annie and I feel chills and a subtle desire to vomit. It is the endearing quality of the mad genius, especially one whose desperation and dissolution are immortalized by the inglorious halo of death, that the inspirational source of his works will be forever locked from the world. Poe took the secret of his genius with him into the vault of death and the key is nowhere to be found. Maybe that is why we look so hard.

November 30, 1998

Vicente Reyes

| Posted on 2005-01-08 | by Approved Guest

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