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Literary Analysis of Edgar Allan Poe’s Poem 'To Anne'

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Edgar Allan Poe keeps his tradition of crafting beautiful gloaming poetry demonstrated in “For Anne.” The author portrays Anne as a symbol of earthbound love and mourning. Using her to display keeping the memory of loved ones alive. How death can be easy but living can be hard, and how death is the ultimate cure to life. The purpose of this poem is to bring solace to audiences dealing with grief. Poe demonstrates cyclical structure for the entirety of this poem by repeating rhymes in the last half of each stanza. In addition to the repetition of lines and slight morphology of lines by a single word.

Overcome with an immense sense of relief, the poem begins with the narrator exclaiming “Thank Heaven! the crisis/ The danger, is past,/ And the lingering illness/ Is over at last—”. This urges readers to settle and listen to the chronicle that the narrator has just forgone. The flee from danger provokes curiosity before revealing that the character has just “conquered the fever of living”. Here, Poe implies that living is the real battle but dying is peaceful and grand. The punctuation here indicates that the man has more to say but gives enough pause for a cliffhanger. This is noticed in numerous places in future stanzas conveying the same purpose. Now the unnamed man sets the scene by peering into important sensory cues that secure the idea he is physically dead. If the man was positioned differently he might not seem deceased.

The man has been cut off from his strength and is laying very still in his bed, but explains that he “feels he is better at length”. This could mean that he is feeling much better, or that he feels he is presented better by being laid on his back— at length. “And I rest so composedly/ Now, in my bed,/That any beholder/ Might fancy me dead—”. This statement cements in the mind that this man is indeed dead, but that there must be an existence beyond death since he is still coherent. He is bedridden and looks dead— He must be deceased.

The narrator adds that this awful pain he experienced while alive is finally over. However, he makes an interesting reference to thirst saying, “ Torture of thirst/ For the naphthaline river/ Of Passion accurst:—/ I have drank of a water/ That quenches all thirst:—”. Here the author references naphthalene which is a known chemical. This could mean that the character is again referring to life as a toxin, or that the constant need to fulfill doomed passions during life is toxic. In the next stanza a cure is revealed.

It is water from an underground cavern that is not very far away (Poe, 44). Here is yet again another cyclical reference to death being the cure of all cures, as typically people are buried only a few feet underground. Whereas usually caverns are much further beneath ground. Suddenly the narrator switches topics, “And ah! let it never/ Be foolishly said/ That my room it is gloomy.” (Poe, 45-47). Poe lightens up the atmosphere by giving this man a positive outlook on his departure. To which he then goes on to illustrate that he has no regrets and feels truly at rest (Poe, 49-52). He continues by saying that to truly be peacefully at rest one must have to die. Poe then uses flower symbolism to separate the anguish of living and death’s holiness.

For this he uses myrtles and roses to contrast panies and rosemary oders. “Forgetting, or never/ Regretting, its roses— / Its old agitations/ Of myrtles and roses:” (Poe, 55-58). The man lays to rest the agitations of existing in order to move on, but the flowers here are used to represent love and passion. Perhaps this man is laying to rest the passions he previously endeavored. He then proceeds to address the liberation in his present state, “A rosemary odor,/ Commingled with pansies—/ With rue and the beautiful/ Puritan pansies.” The rosemary smell is described as a “holier” oder followed with the phrase “Puritan pansies”. This stanza is directly identifying christianity, appropriate when referring to the afterlife and context of the narrative. Notably, society conventionally bestows flowers upon the deceased, feasibly Poe could have been trying to assign flowers to life as done with death. Finally, the woman Anne appears heavily near the end of the poem.

She is first mentioned in the 11th stanza, “And the beauty of Annie—/ Drowned in a bath/ Of the tresses of Annie.” (Poe, 70-72). Here, Anne is seemingly positioned over the face of the dead man as he is being drowned by her hair. As seen in other cases of mourning, Anne is most likely draped over the man in anguish. She is seen as the grieving widow pained by the loss of her lover. The following stanza incorporates the man’s final moments where Anne held him to her chest. Anne “tenderly kissed” and “fondly caressed” the man as he slipped away. She then covers his body and prays for his safe passage into heaven. In these last stanzas the purpose of this narration is to acknowledge Anne’s suffering and to comfort her. He is letting her know that he is in a better place as he departs. The final stanza is a romantic goodbye to Anne as her repeated name is his final thoughts.

“But my heart it is brighter

Than all of the many

Stars in the sky,

For it sparkles with Annie —

It glows with the light

Of the love of my Annie —

With the thought of the light

Of the eyes of my Annie.” (Poe, 95-102).

This romantic gesture implies that that the man’s memory will live on through Anne’s love for him. As his heart glows in the light of her love and thoughts of him. The light in her eyes could be the life still within her, as previously he said his own light was extinguished. With further investigation from other historical sources, the true identity of these individuals brings much needed context to light. Both characters were real people during Poe’s time period. Their names were Annie Locke Richmond and Charles Bradford Richmond.

Poe had a platonic relationship with Annie and soon following her husband’s death the poem was published. One must think that the dead man is Charles and the narrative was an effort to console Mrs. Richmond. This reflects the title of the poem “For Anne” as it seems to be written for her. This context reinforces that the purpose of certain stanzas is to help heal the woman and readers.

Even while this poem is about death, it is a warm and benign way of describing the process of losing loved ones. While it is intended to be “For Anne”, it is versatile for all audiences that have endured loss. Furthermore, Poe is famous for romanticizing dark themes but speaking about death in this way seems far from morbid. Since death is inevitable for all, Poe is correct in referring to it as “a cure” for the reason that it remedies life. This dying man exemplifies what humanity faces, an inevitable cure.  

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Literary Analysis Of Edgar Allan Poe’s Poem ‘To Anne’. (2022, February 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 17, 2022, from
“Literary Analysis Of Edgar Allan Poe’s Poem ‘To Anne’.” GradesFixer, 10 Feb. 2022,
Literary Analysis Of Edgar Allan Poe’s Poem ‘To Anne’. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 17 May 2022].
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