How often we forget all time, when lone
Admiring Nature’s universal throne;
Her woods- her wilds- her mountains- the intense
Reply of HERS to OUR intelligence! [BYRON, The Island.]

I

In youth have I known one with whom the Earth
In secret communing held- as he with it,
In daylight, and in beauty from his birth:
Whose fervid, flickering torch of life was lit
From the sun and stars, whence he had drawn forth
A passionate light- such for his spirit was fit-
And yet that spirit knew not, in the hour
Of its own fervor what had o’er it power.

II

Perhaps it may be that my mind is wrought
To a fever by the moonbeam that hangs o’er,
But I will half believe that wild light fraught
With more of sovereignty than ancient lore
Hath ever told- or is it of a thought
The unembodied essence, and no more,
That with a quickening spell doth o’er us pass
As dew of the night-time o’er the summer grass?

III

Doth o’er us pass, when, as th’ expanding eye
To the loved object- so the tear to the lid
Will start, which lately slept in apathy?
And yet it need not be- (that object) hid
From us in life- but common- which doth lie
Each hour before us- but then only, bid
With a strange sound, as of a harp-string broken,
To awake us- ‘Tis a symbol and a token

IV

Of what in other worlds shall be- and given
In beauty by our God, to those alone
Who otherwise would fall from life and Heaven
Drawn by their heart’s passion, and that tone,
That high tone of the spirit which hath striven,
Tho’ not with Faith- with godliness- whose throne
With desperate energy ‘t hath beaten down;
Wearing its own deep feeling as a crown.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Edgar Allan Poe's poem Stanzas

3 Comments

  1. Jo says:

    hello.
    could someone please explain to me what this poem is about?

  2. Rupert says:

    Unlike the previous comment, I would like to leave a few more useful observations.

    This poem demonstrates a lot of Poe’s earlier sentiment for a Romantic approach rather than the Dark Romantic vein used in later works. Even so, embodied within the text is an ominous sense of a more finite existence. Time is not simplistically perceived as an enemy per se but it is clear that death is inevitable. “Whose fervid, flick’ring torch of life was lit/From the sun and stars, whence he had drawn forth/A passionate light”
    There is, therefore a “greater power” at work but it is not immediately certain whether this is divine or rooted in Nature itself.
    What is worth noting is that the light that descends and illuminates the persona is a “wild light” from “the moon beam” rather than light or shadow cast by the sun.
    As with many of the Gothic poets, there is a sense of celebration with the “dew of the night-time” but unlike his later works, we do not find ourselves stranded “on a midnight dreary” in December or October. Here the light is cast across the “summer grass”.

    What is most familiar here is the indication of loss in “the lov’d object” that prompts “the tear to the lid” and yet, unlike, again, the later works, there is less despair and the poem seems to conclude with yet further celebration of beauty – almost certainly drawn from Nature – that enables the speaker to celebrate a deep and Romantic “feeling”.

    Considering Poe’s propensity for texts that can be read “at one sitting” I hardly think this is toooooooooooo long!

  3. meg says:

    ok it is way tooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo long but i read it and i liked it a lot

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