Edgar Allan Poe is arguably the most distinguished author in the history of American Literature. So it is fitting that his works and their themes transcend time and are still celebrated with as much enthusiasm today as when they were first published.

The Valley of Unrest (circa 1845) expressively epitomizes Dark Romanticism. Dark Romanticism contains much mystery and evil, leaving a sufficient amount to the imagination ("Dark Romanticism: The Ultimate Contradiction"). The poem The Valley of Unrest does this in the most eloquent of ways. Though often mystery equates to masked flaws, flaws that exploit the deepest and darkest aspects of the human psyche. Exploiting the flaws and evils of the human mind is a prominent characteristic of Dark Romanticism ("Dark Romanticism: The Ultimate Contradiction"). Dark Romanticism authors seemed to understand that every individual possesses flaws. Correspondingly, it can be inferred that they believed romanticized ideals should not be developed in regards to human expectations. If you hold people to impossibly high expectations, they will always disappoint. People are flawed. Their flaws are what makes them an individual. Individuality and the exploitation of evils and vices are also a very stressed and important aspect of Dark Romanticism ("Dark Romanticism: The Ultimate Contradiction"). Edgar Allan Poe proved to be the embodiment of individuality. Poe's vices were the reason for his outlandish success.

It is a cliche to say that all great artist are a bit mad, though this cliche proves to be true the majority of the time. It is generally known that Edgar Allan Poe was a relatively bizarre man, but an extraordinary artist. This is justified by the fact that Poe experienced much tragedy throughout his lifetime (Sova). At an early age, Poe experienced the loss of his mother (Sova). Poe's mother had left his father, taking the children with her (Sova). As a result of this and the death of his mother, Poe was separated from his siblings and adopted by another family (Sova). As a young man, Poe married a very young girl named Virginia - she was thirteen years old when they married (Sova). Once again, Poe experienced loss with the death of Virginia when she was just twenty five years old (Sova). Edgar Allen Poe's colorful and tragic life experiences heavily influenced his art.

The Valley of Unrest is an ardent poem by Poe, expressing effectively the speaker's sorrow for lost love and the tragedy of war. Experiencing so much loss throughout his life, his experiences undoubtedly influenced his art. Poe's experiences with loss at an early age and so frequently throughout his life undoubtedly influenced his writings greatly. The reader experiences, for a brief time, a part of the sorrow Poe experienced in his poem The Valley of Unrest. The sorrow Poe felt transcends time, allowing the reader to form a deeper and meaningful connection with the meanings in his poetry. These are connections that stay with the reader long after the initial reading of the poem.

Throughout The Valley of Unrest, the speaker exists in a dazed state of sorts. This dazed state from which the speaker narrates the poem adds to the mystery and sorrow of the overall tone. The poem speaks of war and the sadness that conflict brings. The poem represents and reflects aspects of Romanticism in that nature is heavily stressed throughout the poem. Poe personifies the valley and all of it's life, stating that the valley misses the life that once happily inhabited the land (Edgar). Poe even goes as far as to say that the flowers cry tears of sadness for the massive loss of life and energy (Edgar). This is quite a melancholy perspective that really correlates with the aspects of Dark Romanticism.

Dark Romanticism is much more intriguing than Romanticism. Dark Romanticism possesses a sense of mystery, keeping the reader guessing. Though Dark Romanticism possesses many qualities that are similar to that of Romanticism, the two are a bit different. For instance, Romanticism romanticizes, for lack of a better word, the world, people, and nature, while Dark Romanticism exploits their flaws and vices ("Dark Romanticism: The Ultimate Contradiction"). They are similar in that both seek truth and a stronger bong with nature and a deeper understanding of life and being and truth revealed in nature (Werlock).

Compared to Edgar Allan Poe's most popular work The Raven, The Valley of Unrest possesses a deeper and more elaborate meaning. The Raven has a relatively literal meaning and interpretation, whilst The Valley of Unrest must be analyzed in order for the reader to develop a full understanding of the poem. What makes Poe's works distinguishable form any other artist is his writing. When reading a short story or poem by Edgar Allan Poe, the reader is able to identify his writing due to his very unique style that is unlike any other. Poe has style.

Correspondingly, Poe's The Valley of Unrest does not compare to Hawthorne's The Ambitious Guest. This is due to the fact that The Valley of Unrest reads as a poem possessing many deeper meanings, while The Ambitious Guest reads as a straightfoward short story. Though many of their aspects of Dark Romanticism are the same or very similar, the two authors have a very unique style of writing.

Edgar Allan Poe may have been a bit of an eccentric and flawed character, but these flaws most definitely made him the epitome of Dark Romanticism itself. Edgar Allan Poe is truly the poster boy of Dark Romanticism. His poem The Valley of Unrest, is an example of this truth.


The poem itself:

The Valley of Unrest

"Once it smiled a silent dell
Where the people did not dwell;
They had gone unto the wars,
Trusting to the mild-eyed stars,
Nightly, from their azure towers,
To keep watch above the flowers,
In the midst of which all day
The red sun-light lazily lay.
Now each visitor shall confess
The sad valley's restlessness.
Nothing there is motionless --
Nothing save the airs that brood
Over the magic solitude.
Ah, by no wind are stirred those trees
That palpitate like the chill seas
Around the misty Hebrides!
Ah, by no wind those clouds are driven
That rustle through the unquiet Heaven
Uneasily, from morn till even,
Over the violets there that lie
In myriad types of the human eye --
Over the lilies there that wave
And weep above a nameless grave!
They wave: -- from out their fragrant tops
Eternal dews come down in drops.
They weep: -- from off their delicate stems
Perennial tears descend in gems (Edgar)."

Works Cited

"Dark Romanticism: The Ultimate Contradiction." Thinkquest.org. 2001. Web. 2 Jan. 2011. http://library.thinkquest.org/C0126184/english/litamericandark.htm.

Edgar Allan Poe, Short Stories, Tales, and Poems. Web. 10 Dec. 2010. http://poestories.com/index.php.

Sova, Dawn B. "Poe, Edgar Allan." Critical Companion to Edgar Allan Poe: A Literary Reference to His Life and Work, Critical Companion. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2007. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE54&SID=5&iPin= ffazpoe0957&SingleRecord=True (accessed December 10, 2010).

Werlock, Abby H. P. "Romanticism." The Facts On File Companion to the American Short Story, Second Edition. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2009. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 07 Dec. 2010. <http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE54&SID=5&iPin= CASS719&SingleRecord=True>.