How does Edgar Allan Poe use sound to parallel the nature of his poem’s subject matter?
‘The Raven’ written by Edgar Allan Poe, is filled with rhymes and literacy techniques making it an excellent example showing how Poe uses sound to parallel the nature of this poem’s subject matter. It was also one of the best known poems of the nineteenth century considering the quality of each verse. Poe creates his poems in such a way, that they are as musical, hypnotising and captivating as possible.
The meter of the poem is most probably trochaic octameter with a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed. The poem begins with this type of feet ‘Once upon a midnight dreary,’ and this starts the poem off with a rhythm. Combine this and the predominating ABCBB end rhyme scheme, the frequent use of internal rhyme and the refrain of ‘nevermore’ gives the poem a musical lit when read out loud.
The poet has also used feminine rhyme in his poem and in some verses, the stressed syllables are similar to the ones in this line, ‘But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,’. The effect of using the feminine rhyme is to make the poem get the musical rhythm that would push the readers forward and into a beat.
Throughout the poem, Poe emphasises on the ‘O’ sound in words such as ‘Lenore’ and ‘nevermore.’ The effect of this is that it shows readers the melancholy and lonely tone of the poem which also helps establishing an atmosphere thus relates to subject of the poem.
When looking at poetry it is easy to look at the structure of the poem for a better understanding. Many poets use rhyme, meter, and other forms of structure when configuring their poems. Some other poets use free verse. Free verse is when you don't consider rhyme or meter into your work, instead it's thoughts put together making a poem. Some of the poems that I will be looking at today do in fact ...
‘And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor,’ contains a sibilance which is similar to alliteration except that it focuses more on the repetition of the ‘s’ sound thus creating a hissing effect. This literacy technique contributes to a dispiriting and depressing tone one of which Poe maintains throughout the poem.
A metaphor has also included as Poe refers the’ Night’s Plutonian shore’ as a vast ocean washing up against the edge of the protagonist’s room. This emphasises the idea of the vast ocean as darkness, despair and of hellish shadows with the raven, a wave bringing a baffling message that just adds to the sadness of the narrator.
Most of the verses in the poem are punctuated by the word ‘nervermore.’ The repetition of this word gives each of the verses a calm but unhappy ending reflecting on the despair in the protagonist’s soul.
Edgar Allen Poe has composed this poem so that as the events get more intense, so do the words and rhythm. The rhythm pushes you forward and also sounds like a drum beat with each stressed syllable acting as one beat. Near the end of the poem, it almost sounds like fists pounding on a table as the protagonist becomes more and more agitated in both mind and in action as he shrieks ‘Take thy beak from out me heart, and take thy from off my door!’
‘The Raven’ is like a spell Edgar Allen Poe weaves that comes to a wild peak and then suddenly disappears. Poe uses meter, rhythm and literacy techniques to relate the sound to the subject of his poem. The use of sound helps to create this and all the complicated rhyme and rhythm draws people more into the world of poem.