Alone: Edgar Alan Poe

Alone by Edgar Allan Poe Many years after school ended, I had my first real experience with books.

I was a terrible high school student and rarely attended classes past my freshman year. I never even considered college – all I wanted to do was play music and travel the country in a van… and if I really made it big… a bus.

While living in a small college town in Oklahoma I met an English major / book worm who introduced to the writings of all of the great writers. She had them all.

I then spent the next 6 months reading a book every day or two, I was hooked… I devoured their every word.

Charles Bukowski, Ernest Hemingway, Friedrich Nietzsche and Edgar Allan Poe were some of my favorites. I found their experiences and stories about drunkenness, chaos, sadness, madness and revolution to be more similar to my thoughts and experiences than those of anyone I knew personally at the time.

It was the first time I discovered that it’s ok to be a little bit crazy… different than everyone else. Even out of your mind.

And not only was it ok, but it was the common thread found in most of history’s greatest artists, writers and musicians… the only crowd I have ever really respected or wanted to be a part of.

Alone

There was one poem (written by Poe) in particular that struck me personally.  I have recited the first 4 lines in my head thousands of times over the years.

And if anyone is paying attention, I paraphrased the first four lines of this poem in my band Rewake’s song “Flowers of My Discontent” on the ‘Air Bubbles’ album.

“From childhood’s hour I could not bring… my passion from a common spring.”

Here it is. I hope it gives you a little bit of what it gave me.

Alone by Edgar Allan Poe

From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone.
Then- in my childhood, in the dawn
Of a most stormy life- was drawn
From every depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still:
From the torrent, or the fountain,
From the red cliff of the mountain,
From the sun that round me rolled
In its autumn tint of gold,
From the lightning in the sky
As it passed me flying by,
From the thunder and the storm,
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view.

– –

  • Jon Tam

    I couldn’t have been more different, yet the same Malan. When I was in middle school I was a straight A student, then couldn’t hack it in High school and became depressed all the way through college. I always tried to be the good boy living up to my parent’s expectations, but it sucked the soul out of me. The only place I found solace was in literature, which let me know that I wasn’t alone. That along with studying philosophy probably kept me sane.

    Literature and books are probably literally the only things that have saved me. Artists and writers care so deeply about being a real human being that they get burned by it themselves.

    If you like Bukowski, check out John Fante’s – Ask the Dust. It’s the only book in recent memory that has hit me in the gut.

  • PeterG

    Well, coming from a similar family situation as you, I found books a little latter in a different place; but they rescued me all the same.