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Today I read Edgar Allan Poe’s short story ‘The Colloquy of Monos and Una’, a dialogue between two souls in the ‘afterlife’. It has made me think, with a little sadness, that since English GCSE my potential use of the English language has become somewhat distilled and left hanging at the gate of possibility. Although I have been writing and evolving, I haven’t read a piece like this for about twenty five years. I used to read Edgar Allan Poe as a young girl with fascination, wanting to be thrilled by the genius of terror, knowing what I was getting myself into, purposefully.
Now when I read his writing I find it difficult to comprehend and it takes me time to wrap my mind around the sentence structures and the distinction of certain words. I’m out of touch. Yet his rhythm and depth are lingering in my mind as I write this, perhaps to a point that this post is under his intoxication.
The phrase that comes to mind to describe the story is ‘enlightening macabre’. I thought I was reading a refreshing take on his landscape, a story of contemplation at the world and enlightenment of the ‘afterlife’, yet when I reached the last few paragraphs I realised that it was deceptively horrific, or rather I was being deceptively horrified.
In hindsight, I should have known what to expect, yet I’d forgotten the taste of his territory and enjoyed indulging in the river of his vast and intricately woven mind. I thought I was being taken on a journey into light, not into darkness.
Nevertheless, there is intense beauty that rises to the surface, which he would not be able to express without his equal and opposite extension into darkness. His gift does not come in rose tinted, bite sized packages. His insight and mind explorations are utterly unfathomable. I’m sure I shall be picking up his fictional epiphanies again with a deliberate amnesia, to be inspired, awed, profounded and then intensely horror-fied and shocked again.
It was in this peculiar curiosity of a story from the Penguin Horror series that I was reminded that language can be rediscovered. It can be unfolded to paint feelings, thoughts and visions of a dramatic scope. Just as beautifully as music can evoke and stir, so can the composition of letters on a page.
“For this reason is a musical education most essential; since it causes Rhythm and Harmony to penetrate most intimately into the soul, taking the strangest hold upon it, filling it with beauty and making the man beautiful-minded..”
~ Edgar Allan Poe