Notes Compiled by Michael J. Cummings..©
"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.
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.
Poe uses end rhyme in varying
patterns throughout the poem. The meter
varies, but Poe relies mainly on iambic
and anapestic feet. The following illustrates
the meter of the first four lines.
In a WORLD
And my SOUL|
was a STAG |
Till the FAIR|
tle EU |
la LIE |
be CAME |
my BLUSH |
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 couple–John Allan, a successful businessman
in Richmond, Va., and his wife. Allan was believed to be Poe’s 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
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
In a world of moan,
And my soul
was a stagnant tide,
Till the fair and gentle
Eulalie became my blushing bride-
Till the yellow-haired young
Eulalie became my smiling bride.
Notes, Stanza 1
. . . tide: An example of a metaphor.
tide: This is an oxymoron, a figure of speech that combines
contradictory words. On the one hand, stagnant means motionless,
On the other, tide means the alternating rise and fall of ocean
. . . bride: An example of alliteration (the repetition of the
stars of the night
the eyes of the radiant girl!
And never a flake
That the vapor
With the moon-tints of purple
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
. . . girl: An example of hyperbole.
One of three varieties of flowers in the carnation family. The other two
are the picotee and the bizarre. Here, Poe says that the carnation, a flake,
is purple and pearl.
One meaning of vapor, seldom used, is strange, fantastic, exotic
notion. If this is the meaning Poe intended, the poem would be saying,
in effect, that not even the most fantastically beautiful flower conceivable
could equal the beauty of Eulalie.
. . . pearl: The moon usually has a hue of silver-white (pearl).
However, depending upon the time of evening or night, the position of the
sun, and the condition of earth's atmosphere, the moon may appear purple.
Come never again,
For her soul gives me sigh
And all day long
Shines, bright and strong,
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
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.
Moon goddess of fertility, love, and reproduction in the ancient Middle
East. Poe also refers to Astarte in his poem "Ulalume."
Used adjectivally to mean supervisory in the way a mother lovingly
watches over her daughter.