in the poem, Poe describes his lifelong feelings of loneliness, isolation, and difference. His intense imaginative life, he writes, is a curse, forever setting him apart from other people. But it’s also a blessing, the source of his visionary power.
Do you think he was an INFJ? Google says, “INFP.” But are they as lonely as a male INFJ (0.5 percent of the population)? I think not.
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 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—
I wanted to share some thoughts (unpack Poe’s poem a bit). To explain a little more why I shared it. It was more than a test you see. I found the old man reading the poem on a YouTube video. I immediately loved it. I downloaded it and put music and images to the reading. It spoke to me as an INFJ. It was so INFJ I couldn’t believe it was Poe, having read so of his more grisly works.
“Alone” by Edgar Allan Poe is a complex and deeply introspective poem that deals with themes of loneliness, individuality, suffering, and the sublime forces of nature. Poe, as a prominent figure in the Romantic literary movement, is known for exploring the darker elements of the human psyche, and this poem is no exception. [ I don’t see it as that dark. I see it as a man explaining how he lives on the fringe of society. And how he does perceive things as others do. I totally relate to that. ] From the beginning, the speaker distinguishes himself as an outsider, separated from the rest of humanity in thought, emotion, and perception. He has not felt or seen the world as others do, his passions not stemming from the same sources. The repeated use of “I have not” and “I could not” illustrates his inherent difference and isolation.
[ Difference and isolation. How INFJ always wondering why we are so different. ]
The speaker finds himself drawn to love, sorrow, and joy, but experiences them in solitude. He presents himself as bound by a mysterious force which he associates with experiences of both “good and ill”, thus suggesting a struggle to reconcile dichotomous elements within himself. This “mystery” could represent the speaker’s internal conflict or a broader, existential crisis.
[ INFJs are always in conflict and dissatisfied. That is their normal. ]
The second half of the poem shifts to the sublime – the aesthetic concept associated with awe-inspiring and often terrifying natural phenomena. Poe creates powerful imagery of nature’s raw force, reflecting the stormy emotional turmoil within the speaker’s mind. The “torrent”, “fountain”, “red cliff of the mountain”, “sun”, “lightning”, “thunder”, “storm”, and “cloud” all serve as external metaphors for his internal state.
[ Yes. But it also his awareness of the powers and beauties of external nature — and how they make him cry as much as how he feels inside. ]
The final image of the demon cloud juxtaposed against the blue sky presents a stark visual of his alienation and fear. The cloud symbolizes the ominous and the destructive that contrasts with the peaceful blue sky, which could represent ‘normal’ emotional states. This brings the sense of unease to a climax, reinforcing the speaker’s ongoing struggle with his distinct perspective and feelings of isolation.
[ The demon cloud isn’t a “Demon” it’s the opposites inside him. The juxtaposition of male and female characteristic so common to the intelligent. The androgyny of interests. It is a struggle that can be overcome once accepted. ]
Ultimately, “Alone” is an exploration of the emotional and psychological journey of a person feeling estranged from societal norms. It highlights the complexities of individuality and the inherent loneliness that can come with seeing the world through a unique lens. The strong use of sublime and natural imagery further underscores the speaker’s internal turmoil and alienation.
[Alone is about estrangement in some ways. But feel it’s more about self-acceptance and transformation. That is why I used a forest fire for the last image. The fire consumes the old growth to make way for the new forest. You are on a similar path of self-acceptance. You are discovering it is OK for you to be intelligent, creative, and INFJ sensitive. You are on the fringe. You are not “normal or average.” You are special. ]