Edgar A. Poe is inspired to write "Ulalume"--with a tear in his eye. My pencil illustration.
I was "inspired" by several persons and things, of course. I wanted something to represent Frances S. Osgood--a lyre, for her Poe tribute poem, "The Hand That Swept the Sounding Lyre"--and found, in a 1997 issue of Antiques Magazine, a music stand with a lyre...from Baltimore! Mine is slightly modified. That's Mrs. Osgood in the oval portrait, as painted by her husband Sam. Poe never possessed Frances' portrait--here, it is a vision. The next portrait is a vision of his wife Virginia by painter Thomas Sully, I believe--and seen in her uniquely framed mirror, the one Poe was said to have carried with him in his trunk to Richmond before his death. I had him place a rose in a clear bottle next to her mirror in remembrance. Poe bought Virginia a harp and thought her singing angelic; he often accompanied her on the flute. Poe's look is based on an 1847 daguerreotype made six months after Virginia's passing; "Ulalume" was written and published in 1847.
Music and poetry went hand in hand, according to Poe. Poe liked cats, flowers, and scrolls. The fancy chair is one he might have seen in a hotel or in one of the literary salons; the simple desk is similar to his own traveling desk. He did write "The Philosophy of Furniture", as you may know. Wainscoting, wide plank floor, and plain rug are courtesy of the cottage in Fordham--the little family's last residence.
Some more notes (if it pleases the boggled mind): The half-burned candle signifies something in his relationship with the "starry sisterhood"--the literary ladies of whom Frances was a member. This cost he and Virginia much suffering after "The Raven" made and broke him as a participant in the salons. Notice that he has arranged the desk closer to Virginia with it clearly planted on the rug--each a symbol of their quiet domesticity--and that the fanciful chair with it's "shield" back is turned from Osgood and her world, yet, by it's half-turned position, indicates that he is either conflicted about his presence in that society, or aspires to what he was brought into via the Allans, but was denied by fate and pecuniary circumstance.
So, no, these "symbols" were not random, but were "selected" to represent the underlying rationale beneath the surface of what Poe considered one of his best poems.