The Pale Blue Eye: what’s the “Lenore” poem Poe recites?

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The Pale Blue Eye is a gothic thriller movie directed by Scott Cooper and released on Netflix in January 2023. Based on the book of the same name by Louis Bayard, the film tells a mystery story about a murder, with a detective that will investigate and explain the crime and a set of plot twists that the spectators don’t expect. One of the biggest curiosities was about the movie title, which is mentioned by Edgar Allan Poe’s character in a poem he recites for the girl he loves, Lea. Let’s discover the origin and the meaning of this poem.

You can watch the official trailer for The Pale Blue Eye here on Youtube.

The Pale Blue Eye: what’s the “Lenore” poem Edgar Allan Poe recites in the movie?

In one of the scenes in the second half of The Pale Blue Eye, Edgar Allan Poe proudly recites a poem to Lea, the girl he loves. As he explains, it’s one of those poems his mother dictates to him in his sleep. The lines he recites are the following:

Down, down, down
Came the hot threshing flurry
Ill at heart, I beseeched her to hurry
She forbore the reply
Endless night
Caught her then in its slurry
Shrouding all, but her pale blue eye
Darkest night, black with hell
Charneled fury
Leaving only
The deathly blue eye

People wonder who wrote that poem and if Edgar Allan Poe is the real author. The truth is that the poem is fictitious, created on purpose for the movie as a poem that came to Edgar Allan Poe by night. But it’s inspired by at least a couple of works written by Poe: Lenore is an actual poem he published in 1843, but its lines are different: it is believed that Poe’s Lenore is about dealing with his wife Virginia’s illness and his brother William Henry Leonard’s death. In the original text of Lenore’s, there is no mention of a pale blue eye. The Pale Blue Eye‘s writer decided to mention Lenore for its resemblance with the name of the girl he loves in the book and movie, Lea.

On the other hand, “the pale blue eye” is actually mentioned in another work by Edgar Allan Poe, a short story he published in 1843: The Tell-Tale Heart. In that story, the protagonist is obsessed with the eye of an old man he knows. “One of his eyes resembled that of a vulture — a pale blue eye, with a film over it,” says the short story. The narrator ends up killing this man and then confessing his crime to the officers, who came shortly after the murder.

Therefore, the lines recited in the movie represent a perfect heritage of Edgar Allan Poe’s art: although they are not quotes of an original work by Poe, they inherit his obsession with death and illness. In the poem inside the movie, the pale blue eye is the only part of her body not shrouded while she faces her “endless night.”

The Pale Blue Eye has surely staged the atmosphere of Edgar Allan Poe’s stories in a mystery movie that represents a homage to the thrillers written by the American author. There’s no doubt that many viewers will start reading his works after watching the movie. And if, after that, you are curious to know how his literature influenced the movie, you can enjoy the article below.