Poe’s Deep in Earth is a curious couplet. It was found pencilled in on a copy of the manuscript to Eulalie, which speaks of the joy of his marriage.
Perhaps that scribbling is Poe thinking out loud, taking a note to remind himself of a couplet which he might use later. Perhaps he was adding a postscript to Eulalie, what happens after the ending.
His wife had died earlier that year and Poe had fallen apart. It was in this stasis that he found madness, and Poe’s Deep In Earth comes from that period , unable to leave his wife’s memory and begin life anew. Till he could throw over her ghost which haunted him, he was condemned, like one of protagonists to walk in that grey twilight, to wander amongst the graves. Poe looked at death unflinchingly, the conqueror worm dissolves all of us, the gruesome details we inevitably ponder when our loved ones are placed in the ground.
And Poe had a better imagination than most. Poe’s Deep In Earth is more than a metaphysical thought, but also speaks to the reality of the moment.
Deep in earth is where we console ourselves that our loved one’s body is safe. But in reality, deep in earth is simply a way to take the waste of life from our sight. Bodies aren’t buried deep for the benefit of nature, unless by number they become a health hazard. Nature disposes of the dead if given a chance, quite gleefully. We bury our dead to avoid nature’s blight on our consciousness.
But the grave to Poe, as it is to us is a barrier, between ourselves and those we once loved. It’s a closed gate to the physical manifestation of the person we loved. We can cross through that gate only by going deep in earth, to our own grave. Where we must lie, and weep alone.
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Edgar Allan Poe’s Deep In Earth
Deep in earth my love is lying
And I must weep alone.