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A Short Analysis of Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘To My Mother’

A charming sonnet by Poe about mothers

Edgar Allan Poe’s mother died in 1811, when Poe was only two years old. His father had walked out the year before, so Poe became an orphan with his mother’s death. He was taken in by John and Frances Allan of Richmond, Virginia, and would live with them until he had reached adulthood, although the Allans never formally adopted him. His middle name (really a second surname) was derived from his ‘adopted’ parents. He was probably named Edgar, by the way, after Edgar in King Lear: his (biological) parents were both actors, who were starring in a production of Shakespeare’s play when their son was born. Poe wrote ‘To My Mother’ in 18

To My Mother

Because I feel that, in the Heavens above,
The angels, whispering to one another,
Can find, among their burning terms of love,
None so devotional as that of ‘Mother,’
Therefore by that dear name I long have called you –
You who are more than mother unto me,
And fill my heart of hearts, where Death installed you
In setting my Virginia’s spirit free. Read the rest of this entry

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A Short Analysis of John Greenleaf Whittier’s ‘Tribute to Mother’

A delightful little paean to the poet’s mother

‘Tribute to Mother’ is a short poem in which the American Quaker poet John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-92) recalls the time when he was a small child and sat beside his mother’s knee. The poet’s mother restrained his ‘selfish moods’ and taught him a ‘chastening love’:

Tribute to Mother

A picture memory brings to me;
I look across the years and see
Myself beside my mother’s knee.
I feel her gentle hand restrain
My selfish moods, and know again
A child’s blind sense of wrong and pain.
But wiser now, a man gray grown,
My childhood’s needs are better known.
My mother’s chastening love I own. Read the rest of this entry

A Short Analysis of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s ‘To Flush, My Dog’

On Barrett Browning’s wonderful dog poem

‘A dog is a man’s best friend’, they say. But one hopes that in this case, as the old jest has it, ‘man embraces woman’, and that what the anonymous author of this proverb had in mind was the close bond between dogs and humans, whether men or women. Flush, the name of the cocker spaniel belonging to Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-61), was clearly a close friend of his poet-owner, and Barrett Browning penned this lovely poem about her beloved dog.

To Flush, My Dog

Loving friend, the gift of one,
Who, her own true faith, hath run,
Through thy lower nature;
Be my benediction said
With my hand upon thy head,
Gentle fellow-creature!

Like a lady’s ringlets brown,
Flow thy silken ears adown
Either side demurely,
Of thy silver-suited breast
Shining out from all the rest
Of thy body purely. Read the rest of this entry