21 Oct. 2012
Edgar Allan Poe’s Theory & Poetry
"The Philosophy of Composition" is an essay written by Edgar Allan Poe that explains his theory on good writers and their writing methods. Essentially, Poe believed every poem should have a strong effect on the reader and that poems should be short and to the point. In addition, Poe described his ideal writing process, where the author methodically and logically writes their poems, as opposed to writing on a whim. "Poe made a living writing essays, reviews and commentaries on other writers" (National Endowment for the Arts). One must assume he must have been a skilled writer and applied his methods to his own work. Poe’s poem “Annabel Lee” is a prime example to better understand his theory on good writing.
“Annabel Lee” is a poem by Poe that perfectly demonstrated his theory on good writers and good writing methods. In summary, the poem is about a man who described his undying love of his dead wife, Annabel Lee. In "The Philosophy of Composition” he asserted that “the death of a beautiful woman is the most poetical topic in the world” (Meyers). Therefore, "Annabel Lee" followed Poe's favorite theme and proved the functionality of his theory. Edgar Allan Poe wrote "Annabel Lee" in May 1849, a few months before his death, and it first appeared in “The Southern Literary Messenger” posthumously in November 1849. Although the poem may refer to a number of women in Poe's life, most acknowledge it to be in memory of Virginia Clemm, Poe's wife. The work returns to Poe's frequent fixation with the romantic image of a beautiful woman who has died too suddenly in the flush of youth. “As indicated more thoroughly in his short story "The Oval Portrait," Poe often associated death with the freezing and capturing of beauty, and many of his heroines reach the peak of loveliness on their deathbed” (Green, Susie’s Notepad). The poem specifically mentions Annabel Lee, and it “celebrates...