The Just Dread-Full Poetry Corner: The Understated Horror of “Dream Within A Dream”

Dream Within a Dream One
Edgar Allan Poe

I admit, it’s been a long time since I’ve talked about Poe on this blog.  And while I’ve discussed two of his short stories (The Masque of the Red Death and The Black Cat), I’ve never dealt with his poetry on Just Dread-full before.  In fact, I haven’t read his poetry (or, you know, his Poe-etry), in quite some time, and I certainly haven’t read it all.  I was consulting my mental rolodex of Poe poems that I have read, with the aid of a little online research, but I wasn’t finding “the right one” to write about today.  Then it occurred to me – something I always try to remember with this blog – that horror is an expansive category that includes many works of art that don’t mirror our contemporary definition of horror (for example, I’ve been wanting to explore some of the earliest Gothic novels for a while, but haven’t done so yet.) As such, I decided to write about Poe’s poem, “Dream Within a Dream.”  This poem is fascinating because, if one really grapples with the implications and philosophical underpinnings of what Poe suggests, the prospect is, indeed, terrifying.  On the other hand, the poem has a rich, sonorous voice and is mesmerizingly beautiful.  To me, such a combination is both a phenomenal achievement and a hallmark of much of Poe’s poetry: The ability to leave us remarkably unsettled (and often sad) while producing a poem that is unusually aesthetically appealing. Continue reading “The Just Dread-Full Poetry Corner: The Understated Horror of “Dream Within A Dream””

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The Just Dread-Full Poetry Corner: The Understated Horror of “Dream Within A Dream”

The Just Dread-Full Poetry Corner: Mary Elizabeth Coleridge’s “The Witch”

witch poem 5
Preparation for the Witch’s Sabbath: D. Vivant-Denon

I’m not sure why it never occurred to me to analyze poetry on this blog, especially since one famous Edgar Allen Poe made macabre poetry so popular.  (By the way, stay tuned for an examination of some Poe poems to come this summer).  Still, I held fast to films, with the occasional graphic novel, short story review, or miscellaneous essay.  Then, one fateful Wednesday evening during my second semester of PhD course work, my Victorian literature professor assigned a thick chunk of lesser-known female poetry from the Victorian Era to read.  There is, to be sure, an entire world of often unacknowledged brilliance in my Victorian Women Poets anthology, but one work, about the depths of evil shrouded in complete innocence, struck me as particularly apropos for this blog.  We have Mary Elizabeth Coleridge, great grand-niece of renowned Romantic-era poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, to thank for this subtle work of unnerving literature, an 1896 poem entitled “The Witch.” Continue reading “The Just Dread-Full Poetry Corner: Mary Elizabeth Coleridge’s “The Witch””

The Just Dread-Full Poetry Corner: Mary Elizabeth Coleridge’s “The Witch”