Monthly Archives: October 2022
By Edgar Allan Poe – 1809-1849
It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.
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;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.
And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsman came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea.
The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
Went envying her and me—
Yes!—that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.
But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we—
Of many far wiser than we—
And neither the angels in heaven above,
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee:
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 her sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.
About the Poem
“Annabel Lee” is the last complete poem composed by Edgar Allan Poe. Like many other of Poe’s poems including “The Raven.” “Ulalume,” and “To One in Paradise,” “Annabel Lee” hauntingly follows the theme of the death of a beautiful woman, which Poe called “the most poetical topic in the world.” In “Annabel Lee,” the narrator fell in love with Annabel Lee when they were young He loves her so strongly that even angels are envious. He continues to love her even after her death.
Scholars debate who, if anyone, was the inspiration for “Annabel Lee.” Like women in many other works by Poe, she marries young and is struck with illness. Many women have been suggested, but Poe’s wife Virginia Eliza Clemm Poe is one of the more credible candidates. The couple were first cousins and publicly married when Virginia Clemm was 13 and Poe was 27. Biographers disagree as to the nature of the couple’s relationship. Though their marriage was loving, some biographers suggest they viewed one another more like a brother and sister. In January 1842, she contracted tuberculosis, growing worse for five years until she died of the disease at the age of 24 in the family’s cottage, at that time outside New York City.
A local legend in Charleston, South Carolina, tells the story of a sailor who met a woman named Annabel Lee. Her father disapproved of the pairing and the two met privately in a graveyard before the sailor’s time stationed in Charleston was up. While away, he heard of Annabel’s death from yellow fever, but her father would not allow him at the funeral. Because he did not know her exact burial location, he instead kept vigil in the cemetery where they had often secretly met. There is no evidence that Edgar Allan Poe had heard of this legend, but locals insist it was his inspiration, especially considering Poe was briefly stationed in Charleston while in the army in 1827.
The poem focuses on an ideal love that is unusually strong. The narrator’s actions show that he not only loves Annabel Lee, but he worships her, something he can only do after her death. The narrator admits that he and Annabel Lee were children when they fell in love, but his explanation that angels murdered her is in itself childish, suggesting he has failed to mature since then. His repetition of this assertion suggests he is trying to rationalize his excessive feelings of loss. Unlike “The Raven,” in which the narrator believes he will “nevermore” be reunited with his love, “Annabel Lee” says the two will be together again, as not even demons “can ever dissever” their souls.
Poe wrote “Annabel Lee” in 1849. The poem was not published until shortly after Poe’s death that same year.
About the Poet
Edgar Allan Poe (January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) was an American writer, poet, editor, and literary critic. Poe is best known for his poetry and short stories, particularly his tales of mystery and the macabre. He is widely regarded as a central figure of Romanticism in the United States, and American literature. Poe was one of the country’s earliest practitioners of the short story and is considered to be the inventor of the detective fiction genre, as well as a significant contributor to the emerging genre of science fiction. Poe is the first well-known American writer to earn a living through writing alone, resulting in a financially difficult life and career.
I am not going to go into great detail about Poe’s life. It was a life filled with much sadness as can be seen in many of his poems. However, I will relate one of my favorite stories about Poe. After accruing substantial gambling debt during his freshman year at the University of Virginia, an 18-year-old Poe found himself desperate for financial stability. Like any reasonable teenage poet with massive debt and a gambling addiction, he joined the Army. Poe enlisted as an artilleryman and soon distinguished himself enough to become an artificer, a respected billet for someone with a mechanical mind adept at preparing explosives. Just two years into his five-year enlistment, Poe was promoted to sergeant major, the senior rank for noncommissioned officers. Despite excelling in the Army, Poe felt he had served “as long as suits my ends or my inclination,” and began searching for an early way out. He found an unorthodox solution through an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Poe traveled to West Point and enrolled as a cadet on July 1, 1830. Poe did well academically but was soon undone by continued quarrels with his foster father and money problems. During his first term, he decided to leave West Point but could not resign without the consent of his foster father. When Allen did not consent, Poe set out to get himself court-martialed and dismissed. In his seven months at West Point, he accumulated an impressive record—though not of the sort to which a cadet usually aspired. The Conduct Roll for July–December 1831 lists the number of offenses committed by cadets and their corresponding demerits. Poe’s name appears about midway down the list of top offenders, with 44 offenses and 106 demerits for the term. The roll for January alone shows Poe at the top of the list with 66 offenses for the month. It would appear that Poe was trying very hard to get kicked out of West Point. Legends of his misconduct range from him being constantly drunk to him showing up for formation naked. The story goes that West Point’s regulations for cadets stated that cadets must attend formation in belt, gloves, and boots (or something to that effect). Poe supposedly showed up in a belt, gloves, boots, a smile, and nothing else. However, there is no mention in West Point’s official records of Poe reporting for drills in “a belt, gloves, boots, a smile, and nothing else,” as has often been rumored and given as a reason for his expulsion, but trust me, a lot of things at military academies don’t go in the official record. On February 8, 1831, he was tried for gross neglect of duty and disobedience of orders for refusing to attend formations, classes, or church. He tactically pleaded not guilty to induce dismissal, knowing that he would be found guilty.
Today will be filled with medical appointments. This morning, I have my next VYEPTI infusion for my headaches at the hospital. Basically, they will hook me up to an IV, and I will sit there for 30 minutes or so while I receive the medicine. It was mildly helpful last time. It lessened my headaches for about two months, though it didn’t help much when there were weather changes. Since I’ve reached my insurance’s out-of-pocket maximum for medical expenses, this won’t cost me anything. The last treatment was over $1400. I will have to talk to my neurologist at the Headache Clinic to see if there is any assistance to pay for the treatment. Otherwise, I will have to discontinue it. I am far from wealthy and meeting my out-of-pocket expenses every year is not a feasible option.
After my infusion, I will get lunch and then head to the headache clinic, where I have a follow-up appointment with my neurologist. We will discuss how effective the VYEPTI was, and I will discuss with her the expense of the medication. The Headache Clinic I go to is well-versed in all things headache related, as it should be. If there is a solution for financial assistance, they should know what it is. I wish insurance companies in the United States weren’t able to dictate treatments instead of doctors. It’s very frustrating when there are mountains of medical bills to pay, even when you have insurance. So please vote for Democrats and Progressives in the general election next Tuesday. We are all (except for the super-wealthy among us, but I am guessing no super-wealthy person reads this little blog) fucked if Republicans gain control of even one chamber of Congress.
After my headache appointment, I will head over to Target to get a few things. I might as well go while I am in New Hampshire. I may even go by HomeGoods, which is one of my favorite stores. I’ll probably go home after that. Quite frankly, all of that is enough for one day.
Ointment and perfume delight the heart, and the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel.
Friendship is truly one of the greatest gifts in life. In our friends we find trusted companions who know us and love us for who we are, no matter what. Friendship can also be challenging and messy, as it takes a lot of work to keep relationships with friends happy and healthy, but our friends are the people who get us through rough times—the people who very often come to us with compassion. They always have the right words because they know our needs. I’ve never heard anyone say they wish for fewer, less-meaningful relationships. Each one of us longs to be more connected, more deeply, with friends. And this is because God made us for true friendship.
Proverbs gives us wisdom for navigating the complexities of our relationships. And it doesn’t just address relationships in general, but also friendship in particular. For example, it teaches us what to look for in finding true friends. Proverbs 13:20 says, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed,” and Proverbs 22:24-25 tells us, “Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go, lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul.”
We often treat relationships as consumers: we befriend for the benefits we receive. But like a contract, when the relationship doesn’t give us the goods we want, we leave. However, the Bible shows us that real friendship is more covenantal than contractual. Proverbs 18:24 teaches us, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” God commands us in Proverbs 27:10, “Do not forsake your own friend or your father’s friend, nor go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity; better is a neighbor nearby than a brother far away.” God warns us in Proverbs 19:4 about the fickleness of fair-weather friends: “Wealth brings many new friends, but a poor man is deserted by his friend.”
Our greatest joy is found in our fellowship with God and one another. This is why Jonathan Edwards said that friendship is “the highest happiness of moral agents.” According to the Bible, our chief happiness is in fellowship and friendship.The Bible gives us everything we need to recover a greater vision of true friendship. It shows us even our feeblest of efforts at forging friendships echo a more glorious reality—every friendship is a small and imperfect echo of God, who made us in his image to enjoy friendship forever. Friendship didn’t come from us; it came from God. And he gives us everything we need—through his word and his Spirit—to cultivate it well, for the glory of God.
Friends bring us great comfort in times of need, and the Bible tells us about the importance of our friendships. God’s Word can also be a great comfort in itself. Gary David Comstock wrote in Gay Theology Without Apology, “Instead of making the Bible into a parental authority, I have begun to engage it as I would a friend- as one to whom I have made a commitment and in whom I have invested dearly, but with whom I insist on a mutual exchange of critique, encouragement, support, and challenge. Such investment and commitment hinge on deeply felt and shared experience, meaning, and outlook- a cooperative project to live fully that both changes and remains steady through joys and sorrow.”
Moment of Zen: Cooking
I was talking to a friend the other day, and we were talking about southern food, my blog, etc. I told him that if I were to post my true “Moments of Zen,” it would always be about cooking. All the Moment of Zen posts interest me, but what truly calms me more than anything and puts me in a Zen-like state, is cooking. Whether it’s a simple recipe that takes time, a quick and easy recipe, or a complex and time-consuming dish, cooking it what center’s menu and allows me to let the rest of the world go away for a bit. Now, if I could just find a man to cook for. As they say, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” If a man would give me a chance, my cooking could have him hooked forever.