By Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)
A Study Guide
Background Notes Compiled by Michael J. Cummings..© 2006
Type of Work
"Eulalie," published in 1845, is a lyric poem. Like other poems of Poe, it relies on intense emotion and pleasing rhythms to convey its message.
A man lives a depressing, gloomy life until he meets and marries a lovely young woman named Eulalie. So radiant is she that she outshines all the stars. They are one, this man and this woman, "for her soul gives me sigh for sigh." The theme of the poem is that romantic, all-consuming love brings great joy, uniting the man and the woman soul to soul. Where once the man walked only in darkness, he now walks only in light--the brilliant light of Eulalie's shining beauty. Apparently, Eulalie represents Poe's young wife, Virginia, a cousin whom he married in 1836 when she was only 13. They were very close and very happy. When she died of tuberculosis in January 1847 at age 26, the loss devastated Poe, and his poetry thereafter turned dark and somber.
The imagery in the poem centers primarily on light and color. Examples are the following: blushing bride (Line 4, Stanza 1), yellow-haired (Line 5, Stanza 1), less bright / The stars . . . / Than the eyes of the radiant girl (first three lines, Stanza 2), bright-eyed Eulalie's (last line, Stanza 2). For examples of figures of speech, see the annotations accompanying the text, below.
I DWELT|a ALONE
Edgar Allan Poe was born on January 19, 1809, in Boston. After being orphaned at age two, he was taken into the home of a childless coupleJohn Allan, a successful businessman in Richmond, Va., and his wife. Allan was believed to be Poes godfather. At age six, Poe went to England with the Allans and was enrolled in schools there. After he returned with the Allans to the U.S. in 1820, he studied at private schools, then attended the University of Virginia and the U.S. Military Academy, but did not complete studies at either school. After beginning his literary career as a poet and prose writer, he married his young cousin, Virginia Clemm. He worked for several magazines and joined the staff of the New York Mirror newspaper in 1844. All the while, he was battling a drinking problem. After the Mirror published his poem The Raven in January 1845, Poe achieved national and international fame. Besides pioneering the development of the short story, Poe invented the format for the detective story as we know it today. He also was an outstanding literary critic. Despite the acclaim he received, he was never really happy because of his drinking and because of the deaths of several people close to him, including his wife in 1847. He frequently had trouble paying his debts. It is believed that heavy drinking was a contributing cause of his death in Baltimore on October 7, 1849.
By Edgar Allan Poe
Complete Text With Annotations by Michael J. Cummings
I dwelt alone
Notes, Stanza 1
soul . . . tide: An example of a metaphor.
Ah, lessless bright
The stars of the night
Than the eyes of the radiant girl!
And never a flake
That the vapor can make
With the moon-tints of purple and pearl,
Can vie with the modest Eulalie's most unregarded curl
Can compare with the bright-eyed Eulalie's most humble and careless curl.
Notes, Stanza 2
less . . . girl: An example of hyperbole.
Now Doubtnow Pain
Come never again,
For her soul gives me sigh for sigh,
And all day long
Shines, bright and strong,
Astarte within the sky,
While ever to her dear Eulalie upturns her matron eye-
While ever to her young Eulalie upturns her violet eye.
Notes, Stanza 3
Doubt, Pain: These are the only words in the poem that Poe capitalizes except for Eulalie and the word that begins each line. It may be that Doubt and Pain, here personified, were gigantic "devils" in Poe's life before he met Virginia Clemm.
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