Friday, 5 February 2016

They Matter to Me - Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe (1809 – 1849)

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Edgar Allan Poe.
Let me explain…
Fact: Poe is the master of rhythm and rhyme. His writing cuts through the perceived difficulties associated with poetry by grabbing the reader and giving them no option but to read exactly how he intended. This doesn’t happen with a lot of poets’ work. After reading a poem from Poe you feel like you have just been his puppet for the duration of the piece.
I love this. It makes him, all at once, a great introduction to poetry for anyone struggling with the genre and also a master of the demons of the mind.
I hate this. Because every time I read his work it makes me want to rip mine up – I have a very acute (and justifiable) inferiority complex with Poe.

Obviously when my Mum reads this she will tell me that my poems are better than his ever were and I’m her special little writer.  Usually I’m happy to believe this from my Mum – but regretfully not when it comes to Poe.

Let’s have a look at the start of his greatest work.

The Raven

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore -
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door. 
"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door - 
Only this and nothing more."

See what I mean about rhythm and rhyme? It’s astounding isn’t it?

Imagine having the talent to write like that. His work seems natural and not to have any of the forced rhymes that creep into the poetry of us mere mortals.

Over the last 150 years he has become a beacon of damaged genius. Tragedy followed him throughout his life and he died far too young. The mystery surrounding his death has only served to enhance his reputation and provide an eerie context to his most tormented lines.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;

God, that’s a great line! I never get tired of reading it.

It not just his poetry that is incredible either – without his character Auguste Dupin we would never have had Sherlock Holmes.

There is a common misconception that great writers can only be interesting on the page and not in their real life. Edgar Allan Poe disproves this as he lived many of the nightmares that he left us in print. I for one, will never get tired having a glimpse of the tortured mind that was able to fight through the darkness to stain his notebook with works like ‘The Raven’

Edgar Allan Poe matters to me because heroes should be out of reach.

I hope he matters to you (please feel free just to enjoy him and not have him damage your confidence though)

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