Biographical Reference and Publication History: Born in 1809, Edgar Allen Poe was brought up by John and Frances Allen, after this mother’s death in 1811. In his short span of life (1809-1849), he had already witnessed many tragic deaths in his family including the death of his beloved young wife Virginia Clemm in 1847, on whom this poetry is believed to be written. ‘Eulalie’, published in 1845, is a lyrical poem with an unconventional rhythmic pattern, talks about an intense emotional sojourn offered to the beauty of a certain beautiful woman named Eulalie, is supposedly Poe’s dear wife Virginia.
Written from first person viewpoint, the poet depicts his sense of contentment, after getting freed from his gloomy, dreary life when he finds refuge in the beauty and modesty of a young woman named Eulalie, an eulogy of his wife Virginia. According to the poet, Eulalie is a woman who unleashes his ‘stagnant’ soul into a spring of love and happiness. He imagines Eulalie to be his bride, her being an epitome of bliss and sobriety. The sparkling eyes of the girl can make even the stars seems dull in front of them. Even an unkempt curl of Eulalie’s hair may appear as a potential threat to the pearl-white brightness and exotic violet shadow of the moon. The beauty of these celestial bodies is compared with one of her bashful curls. In the third stanza, the poet seems hopeful that the recurring emotions of doubt and pain would never inflict him in presence of Eulalie, as the vibe of her soul resonates with the heartbeat of the poet-lover. She shines brightly in the eternal space of the poet’s mind, whereas the poet compares her with Astarte, the moon goddess of love and fertility in ancient Middle-East, who often turns her supervisory eyes full of violet mist towards the beautiful Eulalie from space.
Poe has sewn the central idea of the poem with moments of love, companionship and togetherness. He has given emphasis on the bride’s youthfulness and modesty, while delineating the contrast between the lives he lived before and after the arrival of Eulalie.
Tone and Style:
The tone of the poem is romantic, thoughtful which exudes happiness and gratitude. Poe’s individualistic style has made the poem significant with the turn of thoughts he uses variedly in each of the stanzas of the poem. His style is unpredictable and full of celestial imagery. Poe let the climax reach to its height gradually at the end of the poem and suddenly leaves the thread to open interpretation.
Poe has depicted varied imageries dealing with hue, tint and radiance, as in ‘blushing bride’, ‘less bright’, ‘moon-tints of purple’, ‘radiant girl’, ‘violet eye’ etc.
Rhyme and Metre:
Poe’s style demands a different rhyme pattern, which the poet follows variedly by using the end rhyme in various patterns throughout the poem. The predominant metrical scheme is in iambic and anapaestic feet, though the metre varies in places. The rhyme pattern goes as aabbb, bbcdccc and eefgghhh in the three consecutive stanzas.
In the third line of the first stanza of the poem, ‘soul’ has been compared with ‘tide’ through a metaphor. The ‘tide’ is put beside the word ‘stagnant’ making an oxymoron. Alliteration is used by the repetition of the ‘b’ sound in the fourth line which goes as ‘became my blushing bride’. To ascribe the sparkling beauty of Eulalie’s eyes, Poe has used hyperbolic expression in words like ‘less-less bright’. Anaphora is used to give emphasis on the climactic approach in the first line of the third stanza through the word ‘now’.
Edgar Allen Poe’s short but mysterious and convoluted life is reflected in his poetry, which grew sombre and dark after the death of his wife. His lifelong struggle with alcoholism and depression, connected with the perpetually unstable condition of his family and residence made him the way he was, one of the most honoured among the contemporary American poets.
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