Essay on An Annotation of Edgar Allan Poe’s The City in the Sea

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An Annotation of Edgar Allan Poe’s The City in the Sea

Edgar Allan Poe had his own unique view on what poetry should be. A lecture he wrote, “The Poetic Principle,” covers his viewpoints and sheds light on many of his poems. We will use it to examine “The City in the Sea.” First, Poe felt that the goal of all poetry should be Beauty. What is poetry? It is not the mere “oral or written repetition of forms, and sounds and colors and odors, and sentiments.” No, whoever just repeats his experiences to the world in the form of song or written verse, no matter how enthusiastically he is doing it, is not attaining beauty. Even if he describes the most beautiful thing, or sings about it, this is not poetry. Poe believes that there is
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The soul catches a glimpse of the Beauty it is looking for in poetry.

Yet, Beauty for Poe would probably be a different beauty for the rest of us. Beauty for Poe often concentrates on death, or has a melancholy theme. While some would think that melancholy would be depressing, it elevates and thrills the soul for Poe. Sadness for Poe is a part of Beauty. In the Poetic Principle, Poe examines other poet’s works, displaying the poetical characteristics of the works. In these works, such as Bryant’s “June” Poe describes that the melancholy is essential to Beauty. In Bryant’s cheerful description of the grave an intense melancholy is created, and that melancholy “we find thrilling us to the soul ­ while there is the truest poetic elevation in the thrill. The impression left is one of a pleasurable sadness. And…let me remind you that this certain taint of sadness is inseparably connected with all the higher manifestations of true Beauty.” Therefore, Poe felt that elevation of the soul, Beauty, and sadness were all very closely related, and dependant on one another.

Through poetry, one can catch a glimpse of this divine, eternal Beauty. The soul is in effect lifted up into heaven
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