Loneliness does not come from having no people about one, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself, or from holding certain views which others find inadmissible.Carl Gustav Jung, 1933.
In one of his most revealing poems, Poe reflects on the profound existential truth of being alone. There is despair in his being, for not belonging. Yet it confronts his own truth.
He was different. He saw differently. His feelings arose strangely. His life took the road less traveled. And he had to walk down the path, all by himself. Poe hints at his tumultuous childhood characterized by a constant sense of abandonment. Here, from the depths of good and evil, arose his loneliness, a mystery he’ll never decipher.
The poet foreshadows the morbid imagery that ensues. A traumatic childhood has tinted his being with demonic red. Poe tasted the waters, felt the mountains, heard the thunders and saw the sun differently. Beyond the four elements, he sees a demon in a cloudy blot in the sky where others could probably find a heaven.
It is interesting to see how Greek philosopher, Empedocles is subtly alluded in these verses. There is a careful, pragmatic choice of metaphors that aligned with Empedocles’s idea of the four elements that also adds to the morbid sensuality of the poem. Empedocles also believed that vision was given to mankind when aphrodite lit a lamp inside the human eye. Light from the eyes illuminated the world we see. Though the idea was practically refuted henceforth, it’s metaphorical message persisted through time, as echoed in the adage:
Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder
But Poe sees a demon where others find a heaven. This intensifies the morbid mood of the poem. The child-like animism ends up projecting an inner demon unto a rorschach inkblot of a cloud. The poem ends as if it was interrupted, leaving the author alone with distant cries for help echoing between the lines.