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Poe & Ghosts

Updated on January 10, 2010

Do you believe in ghosts?

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A Peek Into The Paranormal

Thy soul shall find itself alone

'Mid dark thoughts of the grey tomb-stone;

Not one, of all the crowd, to pry

Into thine hour of secrecy.

Be silent in that solitude,

Which is not loneliness- for then

The spirits of the dead, who stood

In life before thee, are again

In death around thee, and their will

Shall overshadow thee; be still.

-Edgar Allan Poe-

The above stanzas appear in the Edgar Allan Poe poem, Spirits of the Dead. If you are familiar with the poem, you know that three more stanzas follow. These two are my favorites though. Furthermore, they serve a purpose in today’s hub.

In this poem, Poe alerts you to the unseen relatives and strangers surrounding you. The once empty room that you were reading in is now full. While a scary thought, it is also reassuring. Though invisible, you suddenly have people to support you. You are not alone.

In the first stanza, Poe sets the setting and the mood. We are in a graveyard. It is dark. It is a scary time. This would be the perfect setting to open a movie about ghosts. No one is around and no one should be. It is an “hour of secrecy,” meant for only a select group of people. Why?

The following stanza answers the question. This time is for the dead. They are to walk among us. We must be respectful of them. As day is our time, night is theirs. He advises us to take in all that can be found in silence. He encourages us to find something good in being alone. You know the bulk of the spirits who are flying about the yard. Though you still might be scared, it doesn’t matter. It’s not your place to be scared.

A poem such as this causes you to question the existence of an after life. Do you believe in ghosts? Do you believe that we are immediately reincarnated? Do you believe that we are sent to Heaven, Hell or Purgatory to wait until further notice? Do you believe that once we die that is it? Without question, I believe in an afterlife.

Since an early age, I have believed in the existence of ghosts. The bulk of the books I read when I was younger centered on the supernatural. To my young mind, every stranger was a believable candidate for werewolf, vampire or zombie. Ghosts to me were as real as my aunts and uncles. They still are. As an adult, you begin to question how many of your childhood “imaginary friends” were totally imaginary.

To me, it is reassuring to know that while the people I love are no longer physically with me, they are still around me. Still, what can be made of the ghosts in ghost stories? With their relatives being dead for centuries, why do some ghosts remain in houses, buildings and other areas for generations? What keeps them Earthbound and restless? How can one remain deeply attached to a place even after we’ve worn out our welcome?

Poe’s writing is characterized by the macabre, the mystical and the unknown. His language is understandable and common, but his meaning is open to interpretation. Though having been taught in schools for decades, his work remains interesting and timeless, not like other school material that has become boring, the secrets long since discovered, the fascination factor lost. Poe’s work is worth reading again and again.

To read more poetry analysis by this writer, please click on the link below.


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