The meaning of Poe’s poem of solitude
Edgar Allan Poe (1809-49) wrote ‘Alone’ when he was still very young – only 21 years of age. The poem remained unpublished until 1875, over a quarter of a century after Poe’s death. The sentiment is, indeed, something that many of us can relate to from our teenage years and youth: feeling all alone and that we are a misfit in the world around us, not just physically but emotionally alone. Here is Poe’s poem, followed by some words of analysis.
From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were—I have not seen
As others saw—I could not bring
My passions from a common spring—
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow—I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone—
And all I lov’d—I lov’d alone— Read the rest of this entry
On one of the earliest Easter poems
As Easter approaches, we’re going to share some of our favourite Easter-themed poems over the next couple of weeks, in the run-up to Easter Day. First up, a wonderful late medieval poem. ‘Done is a battell on the dragon blak’: as opening lines go, it’s one of the most arresting. Sometimes alternately titled ‘On the Resurrection of Our Lord’, the poem is a masterpiece of Scottish medieval poetry. The author of this barn-storming opener was the medieval Scottish poet William Dunbar (c. 1465-c. 1530).
Done is a battell on the dragon blak,
Our campion Christ confoundit has his force;
The yettis of hell are broken with a crak,
The signe triumphall raisit is of the cross,
The divillis trymmillis with hiddous voce,
The saulis are borrowit and to the bliss can go,
Chyst with his bloud our ransonis dois indoce:
Surrexit Dominus de sepulchro. Read the rest of this entry
In this week’s Dispatches from The Secret Library, Dr Oliver Tearle enjoys some good bad poetry courtesy of The Joy of Bad Verse
I’ve long been a fan of Nicholas Parsons. No, not that one – although who could fail to appreciate the sharp wit of the Just a Minute host? – but Nicholas T. Parsons, the author of one of the best books of literary trivia out there (The Book of Literary Lists), an enjoyable history of the guidebook (Worth the Detour: A History of the Guidebook), and what I’d consider his Magnificent Octopus, The Joy of Bad Verse. This book was published in 1988, so you can consider this ‘review’ a sort of 30-year retrospective. It’s well worth tracking down.
Parsons’ The Joy of Bad Verse is a scholarly and readable study of the history of ‘bad verse’ down the age. What makes a bad poet? Patriotism, religion, and sexual desire appear to be among the worst culprits for serving as muse to the wellspring of the worst and the most wearisome of versifiers. But what Parsons’ book does, as well as offering some rigorous analysis of what makes a bad poem, is to offer up some of the best – which is to say some of the worst – examples of doggerel ever to have inflicted upon an unsuspecting reading public. Read the rest of this entry