A Comparision Between Poe and Fisher
Poetry is unique among forms of literature in that it is a portal of expression governed not by rules of prose or grammar, but only by the fluidity of motion involved with preserving and crystallizing chemical and electrical impulses on paper in the form of awesome, omnipotent, language. One of the most common themes expressed in poetry is love--love's joys, love's luminescence, love's treasured, pleasurable pain, loves fulfillment, love's repudiation, false love, and of course, love's power abused to ravage and torture the pure, the innocent; the power to lobotofy the victim, enveloping their psyche in a prolonged state of trauma and desolation. One professed expert on trauma and desolation, the gothic-romanticist author Edgar Allen Poe, wrote several poems about infernal love, one of which, "The Bridal Ballad", is not dissimilar to a contemporary piece written by Benjamin Fisher despite the time gap of 170 odd years. Although Poe is generally considered the archetypical author of the gothic and romanticist period, his poem contains non of the patterned characteristics of Romanticism, the Premodernist period recognized by its tendency towards spirituality, euphuisms, exaggeration, eurocentrism, and mysterious locales; nor is it composed of the Gothic trends of anadiplosis, premature burial, the supernatural, or the occult. Though death is mentioned in the poem it is not an obligato for the poem's theme, and dramatic language is used, the poem remains an atypical result of the time from which it was produced. Fisher's poem, entitled "Hunting", being a contemporary piece, is more difficult to compare to its designated age, Post-Modernism, because it has not yet fully established its literary norms. However, some trends have been identified, and since any art movement is antithetical to its precursor, it can be inferred that Post-Modernist traits are quite unlike those of Modernism, which was distinguished by genre subjects and inane distinction from any previous literary style. It has been concluded that Post-Modernism generally features a tendency towards parody, self-reference, and a relatism that refuses to distinguish the good from the lacking or mediocre--there is no specific "good guy" versus "bad guy" conflict. In "Hunting", there is a similar ying-yang complex; the villain is obvious, yet his inclemency is incongruous with the value he places on his victims. Despite the shared theme of both poems, their tone, structure, literary implements, and circumstance make them separate entities.
Sell me your soul.
Name your price. Whatever you ask, it is not enough.
For such a jewel deity might give up Its throne and have no regrets.
Men would spill blood, their own or others, gladly.
Yet I think a single red rose might purchase this pearl beyond price. 5
This weed, comely to behold but still a parasite,
Can place a smile on that marmoreal visage to remain,
Forever engraved in my museum of memories.
I will enshrine this satin surrounded ivory crescent,
Beside every glance I ever stole, 10
Before I stepped up to offer my paltry present.
Red for Lust, Rose for Love, Mind the Thorns.
It's dead now, as your soul will become after I uproot it.
What will grow in the void?
Be certain the new child's appetite knows no bounds. 15
Ripping new holes to feed Its growth,
The missborn garnishes Its supper with your sanity.
Don't worry, It doesn't like roses.
However the rabid ravager encaged in my mind may sleep for awhile,
Satiated after devouring such a tender young soul. 20
Don't say I didn't worn you.
Did I mention that this rose is only a down payment.
Lovely, delicate, concentric circles of color and rose colored light.
The blush of life still remains.
A small token of my passing, yet passionate, affections. 25
Moonlight walks along golden beaches,
Blood of grapes savored by candle light,
Promises bedded on silk sheets,
All these and more for the price of just one soul.
I'll be gentle. 30
You won't feel a thing while I slowly suck it away.
Time will heal the wound,
And for a while you might even be able to fool yourself,
Into believing you don't miss it.
At least until the howling of the gulf, 35
Entwines with the keening of your devouring demon new born.
Did I tell you It feeds on souls?
Benjamin Fisher's poem, "Hunting", is a poem wrought with bipolar tones. At first, the narrator demands the reader's soul, and emphasizes the value and essence of this soul. He offers a simple rose in exchange, and makes no effort to increase the material worth of this trifle, instead depending only on the readers inherent inability as a female to resist something so aesthetically pleasing. The rose is the bait, and the hook is swallowed, almost literally, as the antagonist has planted his seed in the damned, it seems even now the little varmint saps the victims strength from within, draining her soul. Now he goes back to the importance of the rose as a symbol of his affection, and all his affection implies. The spawn is growing, feeding off its host, and the murderer promises to be gentle, proposes that the victim might be so delusional as to think they don't need their soul, but they'll be horribly wrong. The narrator states his goal outright: "Sell me your soul/ Name your price." (lines 1-2), which appears inappropriately flippant. However, in the next segment Fisher writes, "Whatever you ask, it is not enough//Men would spill blood, their own or others gladly." this displays a wisdom gained from retrospective and foresight beyond the reach of mortals, the first clue the narrator is not human. The narrator is obviously male, and the rose is red, "Red for Lust/ Rose for Love/ mind the Thorns." which is commonly the signature color of the devil. The devil is also of course infamous for making deals with mortals for souls. If one believes the devil is as powerful a force as God, then certainly the progeny of the devil deserves a reference with an uppercase letter, and the author obliges. The Rose is important as a symbol because it represents temptation and gratification: "Moonlight walks along golden beaches,/Blood of grapes savored by candle light/Promises bedded on silk sheets,/All these and more for the price of just one soul." (lines . There is never any trace of jadedness or antipathy in the narrators choice of words, "I will enshrine this ivory crescent" (line 9), rather he places the victim on the pedestal, then promptly pushes her off it, but he incises and withdraws her self almost affectionately, certainly he gets no thrill from it (extracting souls has become blase, it seems, for him). He never disparages or degrades her, just composedly mars her body and soul irrevocably. Similar to the incubation process of the wasp1 the villain invests a child in her as a legacy of his horror. The child gleans life from the host and devours her consciousness, "Ripping new holes to feed its growth,/ The missborn garnishes Its supper with your sanity" (Lines 16-17) brutally impersonal. The last line of the poem, "Happy Hunting", may refer to the subsequent soul searching the mother will have to do for her demon child, and it is almost salutitive.
The ring is on my hand, 1
And the wreath is on my brow;
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Satin and jewels grand
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Are all at my command,
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â And I am happy now. 5
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â And my lord he loves me well;
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â But, when first he breathed his vow,
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â I felt my bosom swell-
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â For the words rang as a knell,
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â And the voice seemed his who fell 10
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â In the battle down the dell,
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â And who is happy now.
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â But he spoke to re-assure me,
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â And he kissed my pallid brow,
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â While a reverie came o'er me, 15
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â And to the church-yard bore me, Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â And I sighed to him before me,
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Thinking him dead D'Elormie,
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â "Oh, I am happy now!"
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â And thus the words were spoken, 20
And this the plighted vow,
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â And, though my faith be broken,
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â And, though my heart be broken,
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Here is a ring, as token
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â That I am happy now! 25
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Would God I could awaken!
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â For I dream I know not how!
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â And my soul is sorely shaken
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Lest an evil step be taken,-
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Lest the dead who is forsaken 30
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â May not be happy now.
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â
Edgar Allen Poe's ballad is a sign of the times it was written in. It contradicts yet conveys the eurocentrism prominent at the time, it is narrated by a woman on the subject of (in)voluntary marriage, an unpopular viewpoint in the 19th century. The first verse, the narrator convincingly states she is to be happily married. In the second, however, she reveals some qualms; it seems she does not desire this man, but another who died in a battle. Then the suitor reminds the woman of her deceased lover, and she really does fall in love, thinking him to be her dead fiance. She expresses this love, but later feels guilty and terrified that her dead abandoned lover will rise from the grave and come after her. Her betrothal means she is healed, and finally happy once again, she is at the church wearing her bridal wreath and ring, and delighting in her newfound joy. However, she is convinced that the man she is marrying is her dead boyfriend, D'Elormie "And I sighed to him before me/ Thinking him dead D'Elormie/ 'Oh, I am happy now'" (lines 17-19), and persists in this fantasy until she realizes too late she married someone else. The ring is symbolic of her commitment to the man she has truly married, and the delusion she upholds throughout 4 of the 5 verses of the poem. The estimated metric measurement of this poem is iambic hexameter.
If compared directly, these poems reveal many differences and similarities. One of the main differences, that of language, can be attributed to the time period. Literature in Poe's era was generally written according to a set of guidelines and metric measurement; published free verse was very scarce. The structure of "Hunting" has none of the apparent discipline of "The Bridal Ballad" as it was written in free verse. While Poe freely uses supernatural imagery in most of his poems, he never would go so far as Fisher did as to include the devil as a character--Poe considered himself extremely pious--and he would certainly never write about the subduction of a woman and consequent destruction of her by the devil. Fisher's antagonist, being male, is predisposed towards malevolence as per the popular generalization, while Poe's is female, which personifies loyalty, fragility, and repentance. Fisher's narrator is also much more comfortable with his inherent malignancy, while the woman realizes her unintentional mistake and regrets it not just because she will suffer at the hands of the one she forsook, but because she really loved D'Elormie. The ring of the Ballad is also much different from the rose of "Hunting". The Ring is a symbol of a mended heart, while the rose is part of the aftermath of the storm that ripped through one woman's soul. In Fisher's poem, a child eats away at the victim, but in Poe's poem, only death lies in store for the victim. The similarities of these poems are not as important, but they are paramount if one is to compare them effectively. Both the man in Fisher's poem and the woman in Poe's poem betrayed those they pledged their hearts to; both are transformed into the victims near the end, "However the rabid ravager encaged in my mind may sleep for awhile," (line 19) and "And my soul is sorely shaken/Lest an evil step be taken/Lest the dead who is forsaken/May not be happy now." (lines 28-31), perhaps with greater pain and misery than their own conquered. Both poems also focus on inanimate objects as the collective symbol of feeling, the ring and the rose. Both are tokens of false commitment and false love as well. In Fishers as well as Poe's there is false love, present in the fallacious encouraging of those who were showered with expressions of love, whether the misleading was innocent, as with Poe's, or not, as with Fishers. As the results of these catastrophes, we have supernatural living dead and a demon, both minions of evil.
Being at opposite ends of a literary spectrum, Edgar Allen Poe's "The Bridal Ballad" and Fisher's "Hunting" must be distinguished as pieces that have no correlative relationship; their exuded attitude, arrangement, thematic presences, and conditional factors contradict any evidence of relevant connection other than theme.
They are clearly distinct, as their differences in content far outweigh their similarities. Poe's is the tragic story of how one woman was so blinded by grief she mistook another for her love, and Fishers is a page of text which is dauntingly familiar and personal in conveying its message of despair and torture. They are also completely different in terms of commentary, as one could be about marriage procedure and expected roles while the other is about a brutal, vicious cycle which will plague mankind as long as there is evil, as long as we exist.