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Word Play

"I'll tell you a plan for gaining wealth,
Better than banking, trading or leases--
Take a bank note and fold it up,
And then you will find your money in creases!"
~lines 1-4 of Edgar Allen Poe's "Epigram for Wall Street"

This poem was certainly interesting. I liked the play on words it used--"in creases" instead of "increases." I looked up the word epigram using the Encarta feature in microsoft word. It means "a concise witty, witty, and often paradoxical remark or saying; a short poem, often expressing a single idea, that is usually satirical and has a witty ending." I also used an online translator to find the meaning of jeux d'esprit. It is French for "mind games." I'll admit that part of why I chose to blog on this poem was because it is one of the few I actually managed to understand after reading it only a few times. It is a good play on words and a very bad pun.

"He is the corporate Silence: dread him not!
No power hath he of evil in himself;
But should some urgent fate (untimely lot!)
Bring thee to meet his shadow (nameless elf,
That haunteth the lone regions where hath trod
No foot of man,) commend thyself to God!"
~lines 10-15 of Edgar Allan Poe's "Silence"

This poem, I'll admit, took me longer to understand. Needless to say, poetry isn't really a strong suit of mine. Anyways, I think this last part of the poem is in reference to death--maybe even a way of personifying it. It is possible that the entire poem is dealing with it, but it doesn't become as clear until this last part. Death is generally feared, but it isn't evil, as stated in this poem. Poe even wrote that if someone should "meet his shadow," he should "commend [him]self to God." This gives the impression that the person will go into an afterlife.

Others' Thoughts on Poe's Poetry

Comments (1)

Jeremy Barrick:

Epigram for Wall street

I would have to say that Poe is a literary genius. His careful use of words and placement make his work all the more worth while. He is very confusing though. Wow! And to combine English with French just throws the reader off. Mind games are a definite characteristic of his.

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