Abstract

The aim of this article is to tackle the controversial issue of sound dimension in Poe's poetry in the context of Poe's own aesthetic views and influential German Romantic theories of poetry and its relation to music. The main thrust of the argument is to question the opinion, still persisting in some critical quarters, about Poe as overly preoccupied with metrical and musical effects, which supposedly leads to the dissolution of meaning in his poems. The article aims to prove that his poems are unique phono-semantic structures, and their musicality, their meticulous metrical and phonetic orchestration, contributes to the creation of meaning. For the purpose of demonstrating the crucial relation between sonority and meaning in his poetry two texts have been chosen—“The Conqueror Worm” and “To One in Paradise”—but in fact many of Poe's poems could serve as excellent cases in point. By analogy to musical compositions, poems of Edgar Allan Poe develop their “suggestiveness,” their “under current, however indefinite of meaning,” also by their intricate sound design. Therefore, this aspect of his poetry certainly calls for reappraisal and invites further inquiry.

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