The short poem "Alone" by Edgar Allan Poe was written in 1829 or 1830, when he was a young man, but only published in 1875 long after his death. Its full text is as follows:

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 lov’d — I lov’d alone —
Then — in my childhood — in the dawn
Of a most stormy life — was drawn
From ev’ry 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 roll’d
In its autumn tint of gold —
From the lightning in the sky
As it pass’d 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 —

It starts off being about a young person who feels isolated and different from everyone else around them, but the second half of the poem seems deeper and more mysterious. What is "the mystery which binds me still", and how does it relate to landscapes and weather? What is the significance of the cloud taking the form of a demon? Why does the poem end suddenly, mid-sentence? Is there any significance to the frequent dashes used throughout the poem, or the lack of paragraphing into stanzas? How about the choices of metaphor, e.g. does the "spring" in line 4 relate to the "torrent" or "fountain" in line 13, or the "stormy life" in line 10 to the "lightning" and "thunder" later?

Per the tag, I'm seeking a full analysis and interpretation of this poem.


As a young man, Poe felt more than "isolated and different from everyone else."

It was as if he felt "vision impaired" or "sensory impaired" and was unable to "pick up" things that were obvious to ordinary people. (This sometimes happens to very bright people whose intelllectual standards are so high that they miss out on what everyone else "knows." As one such person said to me, I don't want to just "get it," I want to "kill it.")

The "mystery which binds me still" is this cognitive block. It "keeps" him

"From the torrent or the fountain..." and a bunch of things that other people manage to enjoy, "as it pass'd me, flying by."

And most people would say that "the heaven was blue," but "the cloud took the form of a demon in my view." This is called "variant perception",* and is considered the mark of either a genius or a fool.

*This term comes from the investment world, and refers to the tendency of high level investors to "go against the crowd." I am the published author on a book about investing, https://www.amazon.com/A Modern-Approach-Graham-Investing, whose thesis was a "variant perception."

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