February 2, 2011

The Bridal Ballad: Edgar Allan Poe

Scroll down and play the video first. :D
I love Edgar Allan Poe, and while this is not one of his most popular works or, in my opinion, one of his best, this illustration really made me take notice of the somber tones of the poem that at first glance seems childishly "rhymey."   
The poem itself is one of only a few poems from Poe written using a women speaker. The lines are simple and read very much like an old English Rhyme or song. Some think that this poem deals with what is modernly called "Post-nuptial Depression." This interpretation could have merit as the poem was published in 1837, and Poe was married to his cousin,Virginia, in 1836.  
Poe was fond of the drink and easily became intoxicated. Shortly after this poem was published in the Southern Literary Messenger, his drinking had become so bad that he was forced to leave the paper. It is entirely possible that Poe acknowledged that he really was not the best thing for his 13 year old bride and this poem may indicate his guilty conscious. 
Following their marriage, there were many rumors that Poe was not faithful to her. One of the ladies accused was Elizabeth Fries Lummis Ellet, a poet. Anonymous letters written to Virginia which told her of a relationship between Poe and Ellet made Virginia remark on her deathbed that Ellet had "been her murderer." It is believed that Ellet wrote them to Virginia herself. Ellet had been guilty of writing seductive letters to Poe inviting him to meet with her that he did not act upon.  
The ring is on my hand,
And the wreath is on my brow;
Satin and jewels grand
Are all at my command,
And I am happy now.

And my lord he loves me well;
But, when first he breathed his vow,
I felt my bosom swell-
For the words rang as a knell,
And the voice seemed his who fell
In the battle down the dell,
And who is happy now.

But he spoke to re-assure me,
And he kissed my pallid brow,
While a reverie came o'er me,
And to the church-yard bore me,
And I sighed to him before me,
Thinking him dead D'Elormie,
"Oh, I am happy now!"

And thus the words were spoken,
And this the plighted vow,
And, though my faith be broken,
And, though my heart be broken,
Here is a ring, as token
That I am happy now!

Would God I could awaken!
For I dream I know not how!
And my soul is sorely shaken
Lest an evil step be taken,-
Lest the dead who is forsaken
May not be happy now.

The poem is beautifully put to music by Hayley Westerna. The sadness of the poem is so intricately captured by the music.

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