Study Guide

Alone (Poe) Lines 17-22

By Edgar Allan Poe

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Lines 17-22

Lines 17-19

From the lightning in the sky
As it passed me flying by—
From the thunder and the storm—

  • The anaphora continues ("from […] from") as the speaker tells us about some other things in which he finds this mysterious mystery.
  • He sees the mystery in the lightning in the sky when it shoots past him ("passed me flying by"), and in the thunder and the storms that he sees overhead.
  • So, these often powerful, terrifying, natural events (storms, thunder, lightning) actually cause other feelings in the speaker?
  • It sort of seems that way doesn't it? They are a source of mystery—power, inspiration, the divine, whatever it may be.
  • It's entirely possible that the speaker is talking about all these terrifying, tumultuous things because they somehow reflect his own inner turmoil.
  • Recall, for example, that the speaker describes his life as "stormy"—rough, tough, difficult.
  • By seeing the mystery in storms and thunder, the speaker may be trying to look on the difficulties of his life as a source of power or inspiration.

Lines 20-22

And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view—

  • The poem's dramatic conclusion devotes three lines to the last source of mystery: a cloud that takes the shape of a demon in the speaker's eyes ("view").
  • Hmm—this is Poe we're dealing with here, so we suppose the whole demon thing is pretty standard stuff.
  • But what's the deal with it?
  • Well, in a poem that is about alienation and loneliness, it seems only natural that various "demons" would pop up all over the place, right? When you're in a bad mood, or feeling negative, you start looking at everything around negatively.
  • Now that we think of it, we can't help noticing that this passage has an image of alienation jammed right in the middle of it.
  • The "rest of Heaven" is blue, except for a cloud that looks like a demon.
  • That describes the speaker just perfectly. He's the "demon," while everybody else around him is the blue heaven.
  • Okay, don't take this too literally. The idea is simply that everybody else is one thing ("blue"), and he is another thing, that one "cloud," so to speak.
  • In this way, the poem ends where it started—by talking about alienation.
  • But there's one important difference. The speaker has spent the second half of the poem talking about a mystery. We can't help feeling that, while he may have felt lonely, he definitely was able to tap into something pretty cool.

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