Theme of Love in To Helen and Annabel Lee by Edgar Allan Poe
The Romantic Movement in the history of English literature is a specific movement in which the essence of nature and human love are enunciated. The words, ‘Love’ and ‘Romance’ can be characterized in different ways. The genre of romantic poets includes those poets who have infused the elements of love and nature in their poetry in subjective ways. Edgar Allan Poe is such a writer who embraced the form of love and romanticism in darkened way. He successfully used the elements of love and romanticism in poetry to illustrate the passion of death and misery. He always wanted that people would sympathize with the art of and feel the same way rising above the terrestrial world.
In ‘The Oval Portrait,’ Edgar Allan Poe makes a gothic setting in an abandoned castle. Here the main protagonist and his valet are compelled to take shelter. In that gothic atmosphere the elements of romance that Poe characterized in the poem were truly spell bounding.
His another remarkable poem. ‘Annabel Lee’ is such a pathetic presentation of love where is fruitful mentions of all the elements of love. The poet was actually called the father of modern short stories. In this poem such a description of love the poet has made is superb. There is also a mention of ‘Sea’ which is equivalent to the perfumed sea in another poem of his.
In this poem, ‘To Helen’ the poet characterizes the mythological character of Helen as the most wanted and the beauty of the earth. Her infusion in the poem is due to draw the equivalent beauty of both Jane Stanard and Helen, the paragon of beauty. The poet has utterly fallen in love with this 17 years old mother. That was obviously described as his first love. There can be made an apt comparison between two dramatic creations by the same poet.
Two poems are, ‘To Helen’ and ‘Annabel Lee’. In these two poems the common fact lies in the fact that these two are love poems and the theme is directed towards his love persons. In ‘Annabel Lee’ Poe describes about the death of a beautiful lady which is usual in his poetry He mentions that the love between Annabel and him was so strong that even the angels in the heaven would have envied him. And that was most perhaps the cause of her death. In real life, his wife’s name was Virginia. She also suffered a pathetic death.
“In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsmen came
And bore her away from me,”
Hence, the poem bears a long and high pitched love between the couple. They were highly blessed by the Eros, the Roman Goddess of love. Each line of the poem seems like has been dipped into the syrup of love and melted with the liquid of romantic fragrance.
“In this kingdom by the sea,
But we loved with a love that was more than love
I and my Annabel Lee”
In his poem, ‘To Helen’ the poet brings another taste of love mixed with the element of mythology. The insertion of the character of Helen in this poem is just to signify the beauty of his lady love, a lady of 27 years old. Helen is such a woman figure who has a historical importance for which the goddess used to feel complexity. She was almost the paragon of beauty. Her level was more than any others. In Greek word, ‘Psyche’ means mind. Here in his poetic lines the poet registers that Helen was like a psyche to him. Actually counted from the historical facts, ‘Psyche’ was another mythological character. She was mainly goddess, a lady love of Eros. Eros used to come everyday at night to make love. Once in night, Eros visited there in the room of Psyche. Psyche used a lamp to find the presence of Eros. Then Zeus blessed the lady with the fruit of immortality. She was made a constant light in the life of Eros. Here the poet imagines the presence of Jane Stanard like a life in his life which inspires him all through to write poetry. The kind of images the poet presented here in the poem through his use of archaic words is superb.
“Helen, thy beauty is to me
Like those Nicéan barks of yore,
That gently, o’er a perfumed sea,
The weary, way-worn wanderer bore
To his own native shore,”
Here in this poem, the poet uses one phrase, ‘agate lamp. The phrase has significance in respective of the lady’s presence in the life of the post. ‘The agate lamp’ means burning lamp made by agate. However point of Helen in this poem in only to value the beauty of Stanard. The glory and aura of Jane Stanard were equivalent to the beauty of Helen. So the comparison is most logical here in the context of love making.
However in both the respects the two poems voice their own subjective matter. The poet’s love is expressed in different ways. The first poem is presented as an epitome of pathos where in other poem we find the poet a boy who has fallen in love with such a lady who is aged old. So the love is nothing but an unattended love. Here we do not find any sense of misery.
In both the poems there is mentioned sea. So the mention of sea acts as a common medium of love. In fact the vastness of sea can be compared with the vastness of his love in his mind for the lady. As death and misery have always reoetmained as a common point of expression of love in the poetry of Poe, in this poem, the poet experiments with a new form of love where mythology is mixed up with the theme. The colour is something high.
The poet’s playing with the theme of death reminds us of Browning’s The Last Ride Together. In that poem also the poet shows that he wants to take a last walk together with his lady love ever after murdering her. He strangled her ladylove. Here, Edgar makes the theme something more rejuvenated by saying that even the celestial angels were envied by their love. So naturally, the love takes on a high plane. Whether, for the passion of poetry or not but, for both the cases in two poem Edgar’s heart was over flowed with the passion of love.