Category Archives: Art

Modern Fairy Story Reveals Social Commentary

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a1ffac38-681f-48ff-8992-986c22d2c028-large16x9_PLT_Shrek_HeroLast night my wife and I took my kids and her niece to see Shrek: The Musical at the Pensacola Little Theater, and it was a treat! The costumes were fantastic, the setting was amazing, but what I loved the most were the hidden meanings that made me like this modern fairy story in the first place.

My favorite song was “Let Your Freak Flag Fly.” In the play, most of the characters are “outsiders”–the “Big Bad Wolf” is dressed in drag, witches are “not so wicked,” and many of the others are part of the B list fairy stories. What do they tell us? That we should celebrate our differences, and that being divided makes us weak and vulnerable to tyrants and society.

Of course, these characters are the side story, and Shrek and Fiona are the main protagonists. Shrek is definitely not the prince charming, although he rescues Fiona. He does so without violence. He is actually very logical. His whole analogy that ogres are like onions is hilarious yet meaningful. Fiona, as we soon find out, is also an ogre on the inside. She tries to be the typical princess. She shows us that little girls are given expectations based on fairy tales that do not come true. Shrek and Fiona are real life: reality.

One of the most evocative parts that I wish I could have recorded even though I know that’s not cool was when Shrek was mad and hurt and retreated to his swamp to build a wall. A giant green ogre dancing around on stage singing about how a wall was a solution to his problems was just too reminiscent of Donald Trump to go unnoticed.

However, the best example of irony was636053273925510881-Shrek-The-Musical-Farquaad-3 Lord Farquaad–the tyrant who wants to kick out all of the “freaks” so that he can have his perfect kingdom. His size is a realistic portrayal of his brain more than his body.

I appreciated this play, performed mostly for children, so much that I felt compelled to share. Please share your thoughts as well. 636053273954059064-Shrek-The-Musical-Shrek-Fiona-2

 

 

 

 

Everything Else Has Failed by Sharon Hayes; My MoMa Experience CoNtInUeD

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As we emerged from the Jaar exhibit, tears streamed down my face. Alisa, realizing I was crying, stopped me, astounded and asked if I was okay. All I could do was smile at her. These were not sad tears, though I was feeling pain for the thoughts of war and destruction brought to life by my realization, but they were tears of verisimilitude–my thoughts and feelings were realized by another–they were truth for me. This art was my truth.

As I stood with my lover, my partner, my girlfriend, my fiance, and she wiped my tears, the sounds of Sharon Hayes’ voice emerged from a set of speakers. I listened to the words. They spoke to my heart. Tears are in my eyes now as I write.

Here’s an explanation:

Everything Else has Failed! Don’t you Think It’s Time for Love (2007), a sound installation with framed posters, documents the period from September 17 to 21, 2007, when Hayes emerged each day at lunchtime from the corporate headquarters of UBS in midtown Manhattan to speak to an anonymous lover. Beginning “My dear lover” or “My sweet lover,” the texts Hayes spoke were addressed to an unnamed “you” from whom the speaker was separated for some unexplained reason. Woven in between comments on and about personal longing and desire were observations about politics and the trauma and dislocation of living in a time of war. By inserting “private correspondence” into a scene of public speech, Everything Else Has Failed! Don’t You Think It’s Time for Love? provokes questions about the territory of the space of the “political“ and the “unspeakable” as it relates to love and the notion of “free speech.”

This was taken from: http://whitney.org/file_columns/0003/1662/sharon_hayes_press_release.pdf.

I cannot remember the words. I cannot find them online. I wish I could. All I know is that I need this connection in my life. I need to stop being silenced from the lack of understanding.

I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.

Lament of the Images–My MoMa experience

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On a recent trip to New York, I finally got to visit the Museum of Modern Art. For a small town Alabama girl who still has big dreams, this is a pretty big deal. I have been teaching a lot of Modernism, so I was looking forward to being in the same fucking room as Picasso’s, Matisse’s and Van Gogh’s work. However, it was the contemporary that got me.

Many times in this small town, I keep my mouth shut about politics because no one listens and not many people care. But, for some reason, I feel very strongly about the conflicts that we are facing at this moment in time, and I strongly believe that we never get the full story. Everything is watered down, and I often try to discover why. People think I’m crazy, or maybe I just assume that people think I’m crazy because I go on rants about Donald Trump or the Syrian refugees and my opinions are most often different from theirs. The contemporary pieces at MoMa spoke to me because they showed me a connection that I don’t get otherwise. Alisa, my partner, –I’ve wanted to write that for a long time–partner because she’s with me, but also partner because we are kindred souls and I know that she will go to the end of the world with me–often allows my points of view, and sometimes she even agrees with me, but I expect that of her because we have these things in common. But, to see some of my passions and feelings visualized, well it was quite moving to say the least.

One display that really spoke to me was the Lament of the Images by Alfredo Jaar.

Jaar explained in an interview,

The work is a metaphor for the blindness in our society. I think we live in a great paradox today. On the one hand we are bombarded by thousands of images, but on the other hand it has never before been so controlled, be it by the government or by a certain part of the private sector. Therefore, I believe that we have lost the ability to see and be moved by images. Nothing moves us anymore, nothing has any meaning. My work is a kind of poetic meditation about the power of images.

In the first room there are 3 stories to read, then you go through a labyrinth and reach another hall with a glistening light that blinds you. In another sense it is like the request “let there be light”, like an appeal to clarify this situation.

This was taken from http://universes-in-universe.de/car/documenta/11/frid/e-jaar-2.htm.

In the wake of terrorism, political debates, threats of war, and mass shootings, I say to you, think of what you don’t see.

Small Town Festival Opens the Door to History and Art

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William Station’s Day takes place on Pensacola Avenue in Atmore, Alabama, in early October. Half of the street closes, and vendors bring their best goods to display. You might think that this is another one of those festivals where if you’ve been once, you’ve seen it all. I used to think that, but when I began taking a folk-lorish lens, I discovered the unique history and array of art that this small town has to offer.

Here is a bit of the history behind the founding and the naming of the town from http://www.cityofatmore.com:

Long before settlers came to the area that is now Atmore, The Creek Indians inhabited the virgin forests of longleaf pines settling along the creeks and rivers. The development of this area began in the 1860’s following the Civil War as the Mobile and Great Northern railroad extended its line south to the Tensaw River near Mobile.

Workers who moved through the area laying track for the railroad were drawn by the rich farmland and abundance of timber. Agriculture and timber are still major factors in Atmore’s economy.

The first structure in what is Atmore was a small shed built along the railroad at which supplies were left for William Larkin Williams who had a logging operation ten miles down in Florida. In 1866 the site was first called Williams Station, just a supply stop along the railroad.

By the 1870’s there were several buildings; a railroad station, a store containing the post office, and one dwelling. Late in 1870 the first sawmill was put into operation. However, it was the sawmill built by William Marshall Carney in 1876 that sparked the growth of the community. Recognizing the potential of this area which abounded in cypress ponds and virgin forests, legend says Carney hitched a mule to a boat and set claim to most of the area. Because of his many contributions to the growth of the community Mr. Carney is often called “the father of Atmore”.

Many people often overlook the importance of Atmore’s agricultural economy as part of its foundation, but those “virgin forests” are possibly the only reason the town succeeded. Descendants of the sap-collectors have held on to some of the equipment, and they proudly display it at William Station’s Day. Below are some pictures of their display.

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In addition to the agricultural history, storyteller and historian Robert Thrower tells great tales of Indian folklore. He also brings artifacts that he has collected to demonstrate the history of the natives of Atmore and the surrounding area.

 

Soaking in all of the history is fun, but discovering the art of various vendors can be intriguing as well.  I was fortunate in meeting Ikna Smith, creator of these unique pieces of jewelry. I asked her what inspires her, and she answered, “Life inspires me. I like to work with metal and discover all the different ways to shape it. And, I like to play with fire!” IMG_2818IMG_2819IMG_2820IMG_2821

The Gulf Coast Authors also take the stage with their display of their published works ranging from historical fiction to collections of stories originating in the Gulf Coast.

 

 

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Atmore resident Lloyd Albritton displays his publication, Baby Blue.

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Many vendors have a theme that appeals to Southerners and Rednecks, which are in abundance here!

 

 

 

 

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A friend of mine and his wife make these awesome jewelry hangers and pieces that have an artsy flare:

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Some vendors even send their proceeds to benefit different causes!

 

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Sometimes we take the small stuff for granted. I often hear people complain that there is nothing to do in this small town, but these vendors prove that wrong. This town is full of creativity and a rich history: it just takes a different perspective to find it.

A Little More Poe: Poetry and Pleasure in Death

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Emily Dickinson’s poem “My Life Closed Twice before Its Close” expresses the feeling that death is worse on those who are left living than those who have passed from this life. Like Dickinson, Edgar Allan Poe’s best works often deal with expressing the same feelings. Poe’s favorite subject was death, and he deals with the sentiment of death and loss through his poetry. In Edgar Allan Poe, Vincent Buranelli states, “Poe’s theory of poetry makes the death of a beautiful woman the most poetic of themes” (99). He wrote that poetry should be beautiful and sad at the same time (Nextext 22). He expressed this beauty and sadness through a unique form of poetry. His poems, “Annabel Lee,” “Ulalume,” “To One in Paradise,” and “The Raven” all deal with the death of a beautiful woman using different yet similarly effective methods. Through his use of symbolism, imagery and verse, Poe captures and expresses indefinite beauty in his poetry.

Robert Colin McLean writes that Poe was greatly influenced by George Tucker, his teacher at the University of Virginia (798). In his article “From Poetic Theory,” McLean outlines Tucker’s theory, which becomes apparent in Poe’s poetry. His theory claimed that poetry differs from prose in having greater melody of diction, greater brevity or greater amplification, greater dignity of language, more varied and more abundant imagery, and a more elevated tone of feeling and wilder enthusiasm (McLean 798). All of these characteristics are abundant in Poe’s poetry.

Tucker’s theory also suggests that “the strength and beauty of all metaphysical experience have their foundation in our pleasures and pains–those having the greatest effect which refer to our liveliest emotions” (qtd. in McLean 800). Although death and the loss of a loved one do not seem like things in which one could find pleasure, Poe’s poetry evokes emotion while dealing with these subjects. This emotion is found through Poe’s ability to express the feelings caused by his pain so well.

Buranelli shares Poe’s own feelings about poetry from his famous “Letter to B–,” written in 1801. In this excerpt, he offers hints about the attributes that make poetry recognizable:

A poem, in my opinion is opposed to a work of science by having, for its immediate object, pleasure, not truth; to romance, by having for its object an indefinite instead of a definite pleasure, being a poem only so far as this object is attained: romance presenting perceptible images with definite, poetry with indefinite sensations, to which end music is an essential, since the comprehension of sweet sound is our most indefinite conception. Music, when combined with a pleasure idea, is poetry; music without the idea is simply music; the idea without the music is prose from its very definitiveness. (88)

Here, Poe hints at his idea that poetry expresses indefinite pleasure, and by this he means a pleasure that is difficult to define. He also addresses his idea that poetry must be musical. His poetry is definitely rhythmical, and this rhythm is what makes the poem different from prose.

First of all, “Annabel Lee,” one of Poe’s most famous poem, is full of the characteristics that sets Poe’s poetry apart from others. The poem’s imagery sets the stage for the meaning behind it. The narrator expresses the love that he feels for Annabel Lee with the image of the child. He writes, “I was a child and she was a child, / In this kingdom by the sea: / But we loved with a love that was more than love– / I and my Annabel Lee” (7-10). The love of a child is pure and innocent, untainted by worldly troubles. So, Poe uses this image to demonstrate the love shared between the narrator and Annabel Lee, which is infinite and pure.

The other strong image throughout the poem is the symbol of the sea. The sea represents eternity, and the narrator claims that no one, not angels nor demons could separate the souls of him and Annabel Lee. He writes,

For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side

Of my darling-my darling-my life and my bride,

In the sepulchre there by the sea,

In her tomb by the sounding sea. (34-41)

The images of the moon and stars are all related to the tide and the pull of the moon on the sea, which are being compared to the love that the narrator shares with Annabel Lee. He says that he is always connected to her and that they cannot be separated even when she is dead. He still dreams of her, and when he is near her tomb, he lies next to her. Poe uses very strong symbolism throughout “Annabel Lee” to demonstrate the indefinite love that the narrator feels for Annabel Lee.

 Buranelli argues that “Indefiniteness implies music” (91). In order for Poe’s poetry to achieve indefiniteness or to express indefinite beauty, it had to have qualities of music. Poe uses a specific technique in “Annabel Lee” to make a musical verse. Shmoop.com breaks this down:

In the first lines, he mixes what’s called an anapest (which is two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed syllable) with what’s called an iamb (which is the meter you hear most commonly in poetry, an unstressed syllable followed by a stress: It was ma/ny and ma/ny a year/ ago/, The first three groups have three syllables each, and each one ends with a stressed beat. Those are the anapests. The last group (or foot) only has two syllables–that’s your iamb.

This creates a rhythm: da da DUM, da da DUM, da da DUM. So, Poe combines the imagery and symbolism with the rhythm to create an indefinite beauty through this poem.

Another poem that shares similar qualities is “Ulalume.”     In this poem, the strong imagery that Poe uses is in reference to the setting. He describes the “woodland of Weir” (9) as “ghoul-haunted” (9). The lake is described as “dim” (26). He uses this dark and gloomy imagery to set the setting as one that is bleak and somber.

Perhaps more strong than the imagery is the symbolism used in “Ulalume.” He personifies Psyche, which according to G. R. Thompson, editor of The Selected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe, is a symbol for the soul and butterfly (62). Thompson also references the Greek story of Cupid and Psyche, “a soul/body fable” (62). Taking this journey with his soul shows how the narrator is bearing his soul when he comes to realize that he has ventured out on the same night a year later that he lost his love.

“Ulalume” also has a very distinct rhythm. Gradesaver.com explains:

The rhythm of “Ulalume” consists mainly of dactyls, which consists of one accented followed by two unaccented syllables, and of anapests, which reverse the pattern with two unaccented syllables followed by an accented one. However, the most notable element of the poem’s form comes in its useful of variations of rhyme and of repetition. The rhyme scheme makes frequent use not only of end rhyme but also of repetition of words. For example, the first stanza’s rhyme scheme is A1 B1 B1 A2 B2 A3 B3 A3 B3, where B1 is the repetition of the word “sere,” A3 is the repetition of “Auber,” and B3 is the repetition of “Weir.” All nine stanzas begin with A1 B1 B1 A2 as the scheme of the first four lines, and the rest of the verses’ schemes are all very similar. Poe also repeats much of the description of setting in the first stanza in the third and last verses, giving the poem a circular form that parallels his metaphorical voyage of a year and return to Ulalume’s grave.

Poe uses these very distinct patterns to create a sing-song rhythm in the poem. This rhythm makes the poem more enjoyable for the audience, and it draws the audience into the poem.

In “Ulalume,” the narrator’s realization of where he is expresses strong emotion. It is this expression that creates the sense of indefinite beauty that Poe captures in his poetry. The reader can feel the loss that the narrator expresses through the words like, “Then my heart it grew ashen and sober / As the leaves that were crisped and sere– / As the leaves that were withering and sere” (82-83). This expresses the indefinite feelings that the narrator feels, and the reader can experience these feelings as well, which evokes the beauty of the poem. Therefore, the combination of imagery, symbolism and verse create the effect of indefinite beauty.

“To One in Paradise” is another of Poe’s poems that deals with the death of a beautiful woman. In this poem, Poe compares the narrator’s love to “A fountain and a shrine, / All wreathed with fairy fruits and flowers / And all the flowers were mine” (4-6). The shrine indicates that she was something to be worshiped, and the images of the fruits and flowers suggest that she was fertile. “And all the flowers were mine” (6) suggests that she returned his love just as strongly. These images set up the strength of the love that is felt between the narrator and his lover.

The symbols emerge when the love is lost to death. The narrator compares the past to a dim gulf, which is like the sea. Then he says, “‘No more–no more–no more–’ / (Such language holds the solemn sea / To the sands upon the shore)” (16-18). These lines show that what is lost is unrecoverable. The symbol of the sea in this poem is one that shows the indefinite loss of his love. Here, Poe expresses how the loss of a loved one is worse on the one left living. He writes:

And all my days are trances,

And all my nightly dreams

Are where thy dark eye glances,

And where thy footstep gleams–

In what ethereal dances,

By what eternal streams. (21-26)

He shows that the narrator lives with the loss of his love during the day and all night. During the day he is in a trance, and at night he sees his love in his dreams. However, like Poe’s other narrators, he sees this as a way of holding on to his love even after her death rather than letting her go. These symbols of perpetuation, like the sea, show how Poe believed in love after death.

    Poe’s verse in “To One in Paradise” builds up the feeling in the poem. Joanna, a contributor to Ampoetistas, writes that the four repeating “And’s” in the last stanza “emphasize the speaker’s life of drudgery without his lover. The repetition gives the reader a sense of no way out, and that the pattern (of life without love) will continue endlessly” (1). She writes, “The feelings evoked by the words and the way the words are placed help give the poem life” (1). Poe also uses a traditional rhyme scheme of ABABAB, which adds to the song of the poem. Like Joanna says, the way that Poe places his words are what give the poem its life.

Finally, “The Raven” is one of Poe’s most well-known poems, and it shows the connection between Poe’s dark side and his romantic side. It is apparent from the beginning that the narrator is in a bad mental condition. It is difficult to tell whether he is imagining these things that are happening or if they really are occurring. He says, “Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing, / Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;” (25-26), which shows that his mind has been affected by something that makes him see or fear things unlike others. In Edgar Allan Poe: His Writings and Influence, Charles Haines writes, “Poe believed that poetry should deal with, and aim at, what lies ‘beyond beyond’” (76). Having his characters portray madness was one way that Poe dealt with the beyond: what is beyond the consciousness of man? He presents his narrator as someone who has been driven mad by his loss and his loneliness in order to evoke feelings in the reader of wonderment.

Poe sets up the darkness of the poem through imagery. In the second stanza, he writes, “Ah distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December; / And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor” (7-8). The image of a bleak, cold December makes the setting dark and dreary.  Then he sets forth the image of a coal burning out and making shadows on the floor that he describes as a “ghost”. All of these images, and the rest that he uses throughout the poem set the stage for the darkness of the poem.

The strongest symbol in the poem is obviously the symbol of the raven that appears to the narrator. According to Thompson,

Several ancient traditions regarding ravens exist. The Greeks considered them prophetic, and they were sacred to Apollo. They were regarded as prognostic of death because of their omnipresence after a war, scavenging the battlefields for carrion. In Roman myth, the raven was originally white; as punishment for an offense against the gods, its plumage was changed to black. (59)

In any association, the bird seems to bring a message. Thompson claims that the source with most validity for Poe’s usage of the raven is the raven Grip in Charles Dickens’s Barnaby Rudge (59). Nevertheless, the raven appears to the narrator and brings only more pain to the man who has lost his love, Lenore. To the questions that the narrator asks in regards to Lenore, the raven only replies, “Nevermore.” This suggests the doom of the lover to never see his love again, and the repetition implies that he will continue to suffer because of his loss. The symbol of the raven, a dark bird who shows up croaking after death shows the extreme melancholy of the narrator.

“The Raven” is also a very carefully constructed poem. It’s rhyme scheme and rhythm reiterate the feelings evoked by the words. Shmoop.com explains, “The first and third lines have a rhyming word at the middle and at the end of the line (as in “dreary” and “weary”). This is called internal rhyme” (1). The website continues:

The most noticeable rhyme in the poem comes at the end of the second, fourth, fifth, and sixth lines in each stanza. It’s easy to pick out because it’s always an “or” sound (e.g. lore, door, more, floor, Lenore, and of course, Nevermore). That means that two thirds of the lines in this poem end with the same sound! In English-professor jargon, this rhyme scheme would be called ABCBBB, with each letter standing for the sound that ends a line. (1)

This rhyme scheme gives the poem the sound of music. Poe wrote in his “The Poetic Principle,” “It is music, perhaps, that the soul most nearly attains the great end for which, when inspired by the Poetic Sentiment, it struggles–the creation of supernal Beauty” (qtd. in Buranelli 91). By creating music with his poetry, Poe achieves beauty.

    Poe’s subjects are often dark subjects like death and the loss of a loved one; however, he deals with them in poetry, which suggests a deeper meaning than the darkness. Poe finds ways to create beauty out of this darkness. He uses imagery to present dark settings, which often express the feelings of loss. He uses symbolism to express a meaning beyond the setting, such as the eternity of the sea. And, he creates music through his rhyme schemes and construction of the poems, which add to the beauty of his works. The beauty that Poe expresses in his poetry is that he can find the ways to express the feelings of loss through poetry. Throughout the poems that deal with the death of a beautiful young woman, such as “Annabel Lee,” “Ulalume,” “To One in Paradise,” and “The Raven,” Poe uses these similar devices to create beautiful lines that express the feelings of the loss of the young women. These indefinite emotions are difficult to find words to express them, so when Poe puts these into poetry, he is creating indefinite beauty.

Annotated Bibliography

“Annabel Lee: Rhyme, Form and Meter.” Shmoop.com. 2013. Web. 15 July 2013. This website offers information about the rhyme, form and meter about Edgar Allan Poe’s poem, “Annabel Lee.” I use it to show how the poem has a rhythm that makes it musical.  

Buranelli, Vincent. Edgar Allan Poe. New York: Twayne, 1961. Print. Vincent Buranelli discusses Poe and his works. He presents his theories about what Poe does and how he does it. This is useful insight into Poe’s purpose and method.

Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe. New York: Bantam, 1950. Print. This book gives all of Poe’s works that I use in my paper. It also offers a little background information about Poe.  

Haines, Charles. Edgar Allan Poe: His Writings and Influence. New York: Franklin Watts, 1974. Print. Charles Haines examines Poe’s works and his influences. He talks about what Poe wanted to achieve through his writing. He says that Poe wanted to go deeper than the surface and present the beyond in his poetry.

McLean, Robert Colin. “From Poetic Theory.” The Selected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe. New York: Norton, 2004. Print. 798-807. Robert Colin McLean presents Poe’s teacher’s poetic theory and shows how this influenced Poe. He discusses Poe’s use of music and how he came to write his poetry in verse form.  

Poe, Edgar Allan. “Annabel Lee.” Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe. New York: Bantam, 1950. Print. “Annabel Lee” is one of Poe’s most famous poems about the death of a young woman. It contains all of the elements that makes Poe a distinguished poet.

–”The Raven.” Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe. New York: Bantam, 1950. Print. “The Raven” is also a very well-known poem by Poe. It is the darkest of my selections, which shows how Poe dealt with the supernatural, the beyond and made it beautiful.

–”To One in Paradise.” Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe. New York: Bantam, 1950. Print. “To One in Paradise” is not a popular poem, but it also deals with the death of a young woman. It definitely portrays the musical rhythm that Poe desired in poetry.

–”Ulalume.” Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe. New York: Bantam, 1950. Print.

“Ulalume” is a very unique poem that has a very unique meter and rhyme scheme. It really shows how Poe was able to capture the emotions of death of a loved one.  

“Poe’s Poetry Summary and Analysis: ‘Ulalume’.” Gradesaver.com. n.d. Web. 15 July 2013.

This website offers insight and analysis of “Ulalume.” It also discusses the form of the poem, which I use to show how the poem is musical in its rhythm.

“The Raven: Rhyme, Form & Meter.” Shmoop.com. 2013. Web. 15 July 2013.This website discusses the rhyme, form and meter of “The Raven.” It explains the unique rhyme scheme and tells what this is called.  

Thompson, G. R., ed. The Selected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe. New York: Norton, 2004. Print.

As the editor of The Selected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe, G.R. Thompson offers insights and details into the specific pieces of writing. He addresses Poe’s symbolism and his technique.  

“To One in Paradise” (Joanna). ampoetistas. 12 Oct 2007. Web. 15 July 2013. This blog discusses the poem “To One in Paradise.” It gives information about the form and the rhyme scheme that show the musicality of the work.

Thinking About Halloween…A Little Poe

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Poe’s Gothicism in “The Cask of Amontillado”

When a person thinks of Gothic, they think of dark and gloomy settings. Gothic stories usually contain elements that create this type of atmosphere, and they usually contain a plot that is dark also. Edgar Allan Poe is known for his use of the gothic element in his stories. His short story, “A Cask of Amontillado” is gothic because of its dark imagery, setting, and plot.

           Poe uses an abundance of dark images to create his gothic setting in the story. When the narrator invites his victim down to try his wine, he says, “I am worried about the severe cold in my vaults, which is where I’ve stored the cask” (Poe ). The image of a vault reminds people of death and darkness because people are buried in vaults. During the end of the story, the images get even more dark and creepy as Montresor builds his wall to trap Fortunato. The prisoner screams once he realizes what is happening. This image of a man being buried alive is definitely gothic. Poe uses images throughout the story that make people think of darkness and create a gothic setting.

            Poe also creates a setting that is reminiscent of the gothic. All of the images help create this setting, but the actual setting of the story also gives it a very distinct gothic feeling. He sets the story up during the festival season, which paints the picture of busy streets and people in costumes drinking. This setting is usually one for disaster because people do not know what is going on. When Montresor finds Fortunato, “He greeted me warmly, for he had been drinking a great deal” (Poe ). This was due to the festival, and it allowed Fortunato to be taken off guard. Montresor had also ensured that the house would be empty (Poe ). So, Montresor leads Fortunato “down a long and winding staircase and came at last to the damp catacombs of the Montresors” (Poe ). This is the most dark part of the setting. The place where they were going was actually the burial ground for the Montresor family. Poe’s setting presents the gothic in its darkness and association with death.

            The plot of the story also contributes to the gothic element. Poe uses different plots than most writers. In “The Cask of Amontillado,” Montresor is remembering what he did, so the reader knows that it has already happened. The reader also knows that he got away with it. The plot is one of revenge. Montresor says, “A thousand injuries from Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he insulted me, I could not bear it” (Poe ). So, his revenge was based on an insult. Another part of the plot that makes it dark is the fact that Fortunato never saw it coming. Montresor says, “For all he knew, I was his good friend” (Poe ). These two things, and the fact that Montresor is describing murdering someone by burying him alive show that Montresor is a bit crazy. This plot sets up the gothic story as one of darkness.

            Edgar Allan Poe was a brilliant writer. His stories are interesting because they present ideas that are different than most stories. His stories are also good to read because he used elements like Gothicism to create them. In “The Cask of Amontillado,” Poe uses dark images like death and darkness to create a gothic feeling. The setting of the story is during a time of crazy parties and it is in a tomb, which makes it creepy. Poe also uses unique plots to add a different level of darkness. In this story, the narrator has already committed murder and is retelling the story. This plot of murder definitely makes the story gothic. Overall, “The Cask of Amontillado” is a very dark story with lots of gothic elements.     

 

Poe, Edgar Allan. “The Cask of Amontillado.” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black Sea Coast by Roger Fry

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Black Sea Coast by Roger Fry

Describing this painting as a Postimpressionist extension of Impressionism does not quite do it justice. It is an extension of the imagination. The twists in the trees extend beyond the brush strokes. The colors also create an extension of the mind.