While I’ve written a fair amount of poetry myself, I have to admit that I don’t actually read it that often. Figuring out my favorite poet or poem, then, was a difficult task, and I ended up having to go all the way back to what high school Sam would have thought. The result: some high class, vaguely depressing Edgar Allan Poe. Also known as ‘the emo kid’s best friend.’
Edgar Allan Poe isn’t exactly unknown. Most people have read his work for school, whether it be poetry or short stories. As a youngster, though, Poe was one my absolute favorites. I have a whole book of his collected works somewhere in my house that I’ve already read a few times, and will probably read again after I’m done writing this.
Though his short stories are more my speed, I also have a fair amount of respect for his poetry. My favorite among these, however, is one that some suggest may not have even been written by Poe at all. Originally written in the autograph album of Lucy Holmes Balderston, the poem in question – later given the title “Alone” – was never actually published in Poe’s lifetime. Despite this, it is now considered one of his most revealing and vulnerable pieces, which I think is part of what drew me to it, initially.
In the poem, Poe seems to talk about his childhood, how he was unlike others, could not see things as they saw them. He describes feeling alienated from those around him, having loved all that he loved alone. As a teenager with undiagnosed depression and a tendency to self-isolate, this spoke to me. Seeing my feelings put down in words – words written by some guy who’d been dead for over a hundred years – made me feel better, somehow. Like Poe, I’d felt alone for a lot of my life, but in this, I didn’t have to be. Even now, thinking back on it, I would love for my writing to do the same for someone else.
If you want to read the poem for yourself, head on over to https://www.eapoe.org/works/poems/alonea.htm. You’ll also find a link there to the original manuscript, which is pretty cool!