If you like hiding in dark places then meet me in the graveyard, I want to introduce you to Edgar Allan Poe. Get ready for the master of mystery and madness. Never trust anyone in a poem or story by Edgar Allan Poe. The truth is always murky.
It seems the truth about Poe’s real life is unclear too. He dramatically exaggerated the facts. We do know he gambled, argued, drank and died poor in Baltimore.
But like a ghost from one of his tales, Edgar Allan Poe lives on to haunt poetic souls today. Whether you like horror or not, Poe can teach you a lot about charming readers with the music of language.
Reading With Great Voices
by Edgar Allan Poe
by Edgar Allan Poe
A gallant knight,
In sunshine and in shadow,
Had journeyed long,
Singing a song,
In search of Eldorado.
But he grew old-
This knight so bold-
And o'er his heart a shadow
Fell as he found
No spot of ground
That looked like Eldorado.
And, as his strength
Failed him at length,
He met a pilgrim shadow-
"Shadow," said he,
"Where can it be-
This land of Eldorado?"
"Over the Mountains
Of the Moon,
Down the Valley of the Shadow,
Ride, boldly ride,"
The shade replied-
"If you seek for Eldorado!"
Great writers choose their words carefully so we should read them with care. Here are a few words to know when reading Poe’s “Eldorado”:
Gaily bedight: Dramatically dressed to look good.
Gallant: Brave and daring.
Pilgrim: A traveler on a quest searching for something.
Shade: A ghostly shadow.
When writers mention well-known places, famous people, or historic events they are making allusions. Allusions are references to well known people, places and things.
Eldorado is an allusion to a mythical place. See what you can find out about Eldorado. What was so great about it? Why would people risk their lives to find it?
Everybody longs for something. In this poem, Eldorado becomes a metaphor for our longing and desires. Here are a few questions to ask.
What do you want most in life?
What do you want to be?
Where do you want to go?
What is your Eldorado?
Writing With Great Voices
Edgar Allan Poe is famous for the musical quality of his writing. One device he uses often to enhance the rhythm of his lines is alliteration. Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in a series of words.
Notice how the "m" sound is repeated in the following lines:
"Over the mountains/ Of the Moon"
Try writing a dark poem in the spirit of Edgar Allan Poe. Start by making a list of mysterious or frightening words and phrases. Here are a few to get you started:
See if you can create some alliterative lines. Start by selecting two or three words that begin with the same sound, like goblin, ghost, and grave. Mix them up in different ways until you find a pattern you like.
“Goblins gather in a ghostly graveyard”
“A fear-filled freak left me frozen with fright”
Now see if you can create an entire poem that will scare you friends and family.