Edgar Allen Poe, a famous mystery and horror story writer, is also known as one of the greatest poets. Interestingly, his poetry also revolves around mysterious figures, esoteric events, and horrible events or terrible situations. Some of his best poems are given below.
Poem 1: Annabel Lee
Annabel Lee stands at the top among his best poems as it is speculatively based on various figures who had personal relationships with Edgar Allen Poe. It is because of the theme of death and love, stanza format, storyline, the character of Annable as well as the way the poem loves her. The description of the kingdom by the sea, the maiden, the way the poet used to love her during his childhood, her death, and the memory of her death add further to the magic of the poem. The poet has sparingly used metaphors, similes, rhythm, rhyme scheme, and stanza form to support his theme as well as the storyline. Some of its popular lines are as given below.
- And this maiden she lived with no other thought / Than to love and be loved by me.
- I was a child and she was a child.
- But we loved with a love that was more than love.
- But our love it was stronger by far than the love.
This short poem written in 1928 stands among the best poems by Edgar Allen Poe. It is because of the autobiographical undertones used in it. The poet has undergone various crises during his lifetime but he had not known to express any crises related to his life in his stories and poems. Therefore, he resorted to poetic output and his thoughts emerged in the shape of this poem. His loneliness, differences, suffering, and mystery kept Poe busy in his creative work. The poem is not only about childhood, but also about his sorrows, joys, his stormy life, and short pauses of happiness. He has beautifully used themes of life and death, heroic couplets, similes, and metaphors to bring make his readers see his point of view. Some of the important lines of the poem are as given below.
- And others saw – I could not bring / My passions from a common spring —
- Then – in my childhood – in the dawn / Of a most story life – was drawn.
- And the cloud that took the form.
Poem 3: A Dream Within a Dream
The poem has two six-lined stanzas. This beautiful poem first appeared in 1849. The main theme of the poem is the way that the poet has passed his life and the time that has flown away or slipped out of his hands. From the first line, it seems musings of a lover that wants the beloved to part away with a kiss but the next lines seem to express his life experience about the infidelity and transient nature of time. The interesting point is the use of connotations, denotations, similes as well as metaphors to show that the poet is an expert in handling his theme through his poetic output. The most popular lines of the poem are as follows.
- All that we see or seem to see / Is but a dream within a dream.
- And I hold within my hand / Grains of the golden sand –
- O God! Can I not grasp / Them with a tighter clasp?
The Raven has seventeen stanzas and first appeared in 1845. It became a hit on account of its supernatural atmosphere presented by the talking raven, the condition of the distraught lover, and the dialogic form of the storyline presented through poetic language. The chant of “Nevermore” of the raven seems to intensify the agony of the lover, sitting on the statue of Pallas. Borrowing not only the themes but also the bird from a novel and metrical pattern from a Victorian poem, Poe has composed a beautiful narrative storyline in rhythmic stanzas. The poem is studded with classical allusions, mythological references, repetitions, dialogues, metaphors, and similes which have helped this poem to be included among the best poems of Poe. Some of the most popular lines of the poem are as follows.
- Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary.
- Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow.
- Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer.
- But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
Although late writing was published in 1849, this poem perfectly fits the list with its important theme and use of rich literary devices. The poem also mentions his three close female relatives; his mother, his mother-in-law, and his wife, who all mattered most to Poe. The poem has expressed his devotion not only to his mother but also expressed his intense emotions for his wife by her name and his mother-in-law. The poem becomes significant as he writes about the longing that his mother should have lived instead of dying during his childhood. The loving comparison of his wife, his mother, and his mother-in-law has made this poem interesting, beautiful, and universal. Some of the most popular lines of this poem are as follows.
- Because I feel that, in the Heavens above / The angels, whispering to one another.
- You who are more than mother unto me.
- But that infinity with which my wife / Was dearer to my soul than its soul-life.
Poem 6: Dream-Land
The beauty of this poem lies in the presence of the land of Eldorado which Poe has presented as a haunted place. The poem was published when he was almost in the middle of his career. The poem has been placed at number sixth in importance among all of his poems. The interesting thing about the poem is that it presents an alternative experience of dreaming that is contrary to dreaming wonderlands. Instead, this poem presents a terrifyingly cold and ghoulish land where even the ruling kings do not dare move anything. The musicality of rhythm and repetitive rhyme scheme, repetition of words, and the use of supernatural have placed this poem among the best supernatural poems in American Literature. Some of its popular lines are as follows.
- Bottomless vales and boundless floods, / And chasms, and caves, and Titan woods.
- Their lone waters—lone and dead,— / Their still waters—still and chilly / With the snows of the lolling lily.
- For the heart whose woes are legion.
- Beholds it but through darkened glasses.
This poem by Poe comprises four stanzas. It was published quite late in his career in 1849 and yet became very popular even among children. The popularity of the poem lies not only in its thematic strand of mysteriousness but also in the presentation of reality by the end that there is no Eldorado or such a place and that it is as dreamy as a shadow. The dialogic form that Poe has used and the character of Shadow becomes a point of much erudition and philosophical polemic among critics and readers alike. The musicality, rhyme scheme, rhythm, metrical pattern, and short lines suit the length as well as the idea of the poem. Some of its most popular lines are as follows.
- That looked like Eldorado.
- And, as his strength / Failed him at length.
- Down the Valley of the Shadow / Ride, boldly ride.
Though this poem is still the best among his poems. It appeared in 1839 in a magazine and later became part of a story as a song. The beauty of the poem lies in its allegorical presentation of a haunted palace and the situation in which he is living. The poem has six stanzas. Poe presents the beauty of the palace compared with celestial bodies along with moving spirits populating the valley down the palace. The presentation of the grandeur and exquisiteness of the palace with the doors studded with pearls and rubies, the palace seems haunted by Echoes and evil things narrating the story of the old kings and their glory. The poem, by the end, presents “A hideous throng”, showing it laughing and not smiling in mysterious ways. The use of comparison, supernatural elements, and metaphors have created a mysterious beauty in the poem. Some of the popular lines of this poem are as follows.
- Once a fair and stately palace— /Radiant palace—reared its head.
- In state his glory well befitting, / The ruler of the realm was seen.
- A hideous throng rush out forever, / And laugh—but smile no more.
“Lenore” appeared in 1843 when some other poems of Poe were already winning a name for him. As personal voices occasionally touch hearts, this poem also seems a personal voice of Poe as he was undergoing severe strains on account of the illness of his wife, Virginia, whom he loved very much. Also, his brother died shortly before the composition of this poem and his mother and mother-in-law also died before his very eyes. Therefore, this narrative poetic piece marks these deaths, showing the poet haunted by death and the dead. The first version of the poem comprises just 11 quatrains. It was revised later with some additions. The poem is one of the best because of its themes, dialogues, allusions, references, similes, metaphors, and the use of rhyme schemes. Some of its most popular lines are as follows.
- Ah, broken is the golden bowl! — the spirit flown forever!
- Wretches! ye loved her for her wealth and ye hated her for her pride;
- Go up to God so solemnly the dead may feel no wrong!
- Leaving thee wild for the dear child that should have been thy bride —
Poem 10: The City in the Sea
The City in the Sea, comprising four stanzas, was published in 1845 along the lines of its first version “The Doomed City” which appeared in 1831. It was also titled “The City of Sin.” The poem has been placed at number ten on account of its allegorical presentation of Death as a masculine figure, demonstrating Gothic elements of fiction. It seems that the poem has some elemental equivalence to “Kubal Khan” by S. T. Coleridge. Poe has presented Death as a god ruling the roost in a peaceful western metropolis, demonstrating that the urban areas have become a hell where Death has become worse than the devil. The poem also shows the use of allegory, references, metaphors, and supernatural elements. Some of the popular lines of the poem are as follows.
- Lo! Death has reared himself a thrown / In a strange city lying alone.
- Where the good and the bad and the worst and the best / Have gone to their eternal rest.
- Resigned beneath the sky / The melancholy waters lie.
- Death looks gigantically down.