The Sleeper by Edgar Allan Poe

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The Sleeper, by Edgar Allan Poe, was first published in the Poems of 1831; this poem has since been revised from its current version which was printed in 1845. This poem was written during the Romanticism Period. This time period is defined as a time in which poets began to “rebel against the Neoclassical restrictions and dominance of reason as poetic aim. Romantic poetry celebrated the imagination over rationality, passion, and dreams over reason and external reality, and isolated individuality over collective humankind. Romantic poetry looked to celebrate both the supernatural and elevate the commonplace.” (Henriksen) Poe’s imagination prevails in this lyric poem. The speaker of the poem experiences an internal conflict while mourning the death of a loved one.

The relationship of the speaker to his surroundings is introduced into the main narrative in the opening of the poem, and is specific to when this occurrence is taking place, “At midnight, in the month of June”. June is the month in which the summer solstice takes place, in the Pagan culture of this time “Midsummer was thought to be a time of magic, when evil spirits were said to appear. The pagans often wore protective garlands of herbs and flowers.” ( Today this concoction is used by modern herbalists as a mood stabilizer. Midnight is also known as the witching hour when ghosts are considered to have their most power. Black magic is also thought to be infallible at this hour as well. The speaker of the poem describes himself as standing beneath the moon, this sublunary expulsion is pertinent to the narrative of the poem, and he is admitting his mortality in this line. The moon is personified in the fourth line “Exhales from her out her golden rim”, which is ...

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... be casting stones, or holding a conversation. The speaker of the poem does not move on from this emotional torment, yet I do feel as if in his quest for closure he does resolve some of the tumultuous feelings he does have in regard to losing his love.

Works Cited

1. Coviello, Peter. “Poe in Love: Pedophilia, Morbidity, and the Logic of Slavery.” ELH, 70.3 (2003): 875-90.

2. Peeples, Scott. “Life writing/Death writing: Biographical Versions of Poe’s Final Hours.” Biography, 18.4 (1995): 328-338.

3. Folks, Jeffrey. “Poe and the Cogito” The Southern Literary Journal, 42.1 (2009): 57-72

4. summer solstice 1999-2010.1st November 2010.

5. Henricksen, John. Poetry Spark Chart. USA. Spark Publishing, 2003.

6. Poe, Edgar Allan. The Fall of the House of Usher and other writings. London: Penguin Books, 2003.
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