Lenore Poem Analysis

For day six of Gothic Romance Week, I have decided to do an analysis of Poe’s poem Lenore.   I have found the poem’s text on poets.org.   Once again, I thought this would be a line-by-line analysis, but I have found with Poe, I prefer to do a stanza-by-stanza style analysis instead.


Edgar Allan Poe

Ah broken is the golden bowl! the spirit flown forever!
Let the bell toll!–a saintly soul floats on the Stygian river;
And, Guy De Vere, hast thou no tear?–weep now or never more!
See! on yon drear and rigid bier low lies thy love, Lenore!
Come! let the burial rite be read–the funeral song be sung!–
An anthem for the queenliest dead that ever died so young–
A dirge for her the doubly dead in that she died so young.

  • In this first stanza, we are learning that it is the funeral of a young woman who has died.   The narrator names her Lenore and calls her a saintly soul.   We already get the image of her as this otherworldly presence, as better and more important than other people!

“Wretches! ye loved her for her wealth and hated her for her pride,
“And when she fell in feeble health, ye blessed her–that she died!
“How shall the ritual, then, be read?–the requiem how be sung
“By you–by yours, the evil eye,–by yours, the slanderous tongue
“That did to death the innocent that died, and died so young?”

  • In the second stanza, the narrator begins blaming those in attendance for her early demise.   He is accusing them of only loving her for her money and not appreciating her personality.   It is the ire of a man grieving the loss of his true love and feeling irate that people who judged her are there paying their respects. 

Peccavimus; but rave not thus! and let a Sabbath song
Go up to God so solemnly the dead may feel so wrong!
The sweet Lenore hath “gone before,” with Hope, that flew beside
Leaving thee wild for the dear child that should have been thy bride–
For her, the fair and debonair, that now so lowly lies,
The life upon her yellow hair but not within her eyes–
The life still there, upon her hair–the death upon her eyes.

  • In this third stanza, we see the description of her being beautiful even in death, a staple in Poe’s works.   She is dead in the eyes but lives in the shine of her hair.   He is also comparing her to an angel, as she leaves the world to fly away, leaving those mourning never getting to call her their bride!

“Avaunt! to-night my heart is light. No dirge will I upraise,
“But waft the angel on her flight with a Pæan of old days!
“Let no bell toll!–lest her sweet soul, amid its hallowed mirth,
“Should catch the note, as it doth float up from the damnéd Earth.
“To friends above, from fiends below, the indignant ghost is riven–
“From Hell unto a high estate far up within the Heaven–
“From grief and groan, to a golden throne, beside the King of Heaven.”

  • In the final stanza, the narrator is lamenting everywhere that Lenore may be.   From Hell to a Golden Throne in Heaven.   Those present may have thought her damned, but the narrator knows that she is an angelic presence now that she is gone too soon.

~I hope you have enjoyed my analysis of this short poem.   Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!