I opened my Complete Tales & Poems of Edgar Allan Poe today and looked for a short poem to read, particularly one I had not read before. I came upon the following sonnet.
There are some qualities–some incorporate things,
That have a double life, which thus is made
A type of that twin entity which springs
From matter and light, evinced in solid and shade.
There is a two-fold Silence–sea and shore–
Body and soul. One dwells in lonely places,
Newly with grass o’ergrown; some solemn graces,
Some human memories and tearful lore,
Render him terrorless: his name’s “No More.”
He is the corporate Silence: dread him not!
No power hath he of evil in himself;
But should some urgent fate (untimely lot!)
Bring thee to meet his shadow (nameless elf,
That haunteth the lone regions where hath trod
No foot of man) commend thyself to God!
The poem addresses the duality of humans: the physical and the spiritual aspects of a person. These are encompassed in the metaphors of matter and light, solid and shade, sea and shore. I also interpret the duality as the two states of consciousness: our normal state and that of the subconscious.
Silence comes into play because the two aspects of consciousness, or the two aspects of being, cannot be experienced at the same time. One must be silenced in order to perceive the other. For example, if you wanted to access your subconscious mind, you would have to silence your conscious mind through meditation or such. Additionally, if you wanted to become fully aware of your soul, your body must be silenced; in other words, you would have to die.
Poe expresses that death is not to be feared. The silence of one’s life opens that person to the infinite regions of the soul and allows that person to meet God.
Overall, I really liked this poem. It’s well-written and I like the subject matter. I think I will spend some time this weekend silencing my mind and getting in touch with the hidden part of my psyche.
4 responses to ““Silence” by Edgar Allan Poe”
Nice to read some Poe before bedtime. 🙂 Nice reflections, thanks for this.
Thanks for commenting, and may Poe permeate your dreams 😉
I love Poe. I read him every October. The Masque of the Red Death is a dark, colorful and Baroque momento mori on the folly of man. The House of Usher forever stands forever in my imagination as a somber decaying edifice of horror.
Thanks for your comment! I realized that I have not covered any of Poe’s short stories here. I will definitely read a couple soon and share my thoughts. Cheers!