A very deep and haunting poem by Poe. The darknesss of
night and its gloominess brings out the poetic skills of this
master poet. I love the line haunted by ill Angels only. No goodness
is found there. One of his greatest.
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This poem seems to parallel other poems about the dark night of the soul in a unique way - either intentionally or unintentionally - esp. those poems by John of the Cross. The versus that really speak to me are as follows: May not- dare not openly view it! / Never its mysteries are exposed / To the weak human eye unclosed; / So wills its King, who hath forbid / The uplifting of the fringed lid; / And thus the sad Soul that here passes / Beholds it but through darkened glasses. It reminds me of John of the Cross' belief that the surest route to union with God comes in faith; faith beholds dimly what opened eyes cannot see. Faith attaches itself to a dream, so to speak, and moves the traveler on this pilgrimage through life, towards what is hoped for; but to view that Land is to see - and faith will disappear (hence, the poems overtones of death: once we die we will see clearly the solid gold that underlies Reality) . And, I think Poe understands the sadness of faith - which may seem an irony to some - that realizes that as long as we are aspiring for a shore and surging to fires in the sky, like the sea in this poem by Poe, we have not yet reach the End; until the End, we remain, as it were, in a valley of tears. Yet, even in the sadness there is hope, NIGHT means hope, because night means that the light is coming soon.
To really appreciate ‘Dreamland’ by Edgar Allan Poe, it is necessary to get into Poe's mind and read the poem several times, with an imagination that has rewritten laws of nature and physics, because the landscape is a dreamscape. We must go through the looking glass and recreate images in a dreamland which like dreams must defy logic. Poe clearly states in the title that this is not a real place of this world but a dreamland. Poe declares ‘I have reached these lands but newly’, ‘By a route obscure and lonely, /
Haunted by ill angels only, ’ therefore immediately Poe is building on his wandering this dreamscape, in which he has just arrived; which is emphasized to be ‘Out of SPACE- out of TIME.’
Most people would confirm in dreams there are ‘forms that no man can discover’ and in stress dreams it is possible to fall into ‘Bottomless vales and (be swallowed by) boundless floods. Even in real nature a mist can make a vale bottomless, a vast flood can seem boundless and high cliffs plunging directly into the sea do not have a shore; a shore commonly being recognized as a strip of land such as a beach, the fringe of land which exists beside lakes without cliffs. Poe may have imprinted the familiar American great lakes into this poem, ‘Lakes that endlessly outspread/ Their lone waters- lone and dead, -’ seems to indeed describe lakes like Lake Superior, in the dead of winter, ‘Their still waters- still and chilly’.
In dreams time can seem suspended eternal, some earthquakes also produce a timeless fear effect; thus ‘Mountains toppling evermore’ is a realistic nightmare image. Images of a ‘sad Soul’ with dark soulless eyes like ‘darkened glasses’ is wonderfully easy to imagine, and this seems key to this poem, an imagination is necessary to perhaps understand and enjoy an imagery ‘Out of SPACE- out of TIME.’ An appreciation of nature can teach us to enjoy images we cannot always scientifically understand, imagination and responses of the heart, unlock unique such images.
Poe is a fantastic writer. He depicts exactly what his poems are about by use
of the title. 'Dreamland'...By a route obscure and lonely,
Haunted by ill angels only...and from there, we journey through Poe's world.
Metered in a reminiscing of The Raven. A style that IS Poe.
If a white lily were to droop and lose its petals, it would both be lolling and snowing, respectively. I also think this image serves as a strong foil in juxtaposition with the erect eidolon and perhaps the falling tears and mountains. I actually find this image to be very important to the poem. Poe here makes the images flow into each other, an effect which seems deliberate since it goes along with the dual nature of dreams presented.
Beyond that... you should remember the title and pay attention to the first stanza, the terrain features are the terrain of a dream. This is especially emphasized by the reference to the imaginary island/continent of Thule...Any critique of the logic of the geography found in it is an utter tautology: you might as well state dreams aren't real...something of which most -I assure you- are quite aware.
I adore this piece of his work. It's so descriptive and vivid; I can easily picture everything that he wrote. (By the way, Sergio Contreras, if you think poetry is 'hella gay', then why the hell are you on this website? Oh, and check you spelling AND grammar.)
The speaker in DREAMLAND invites us on a tour of 'ultimate dim Thule' by way of the phantom guide who leads us into the domain of NIGHT, which we reach by 'a route obscure and lonely'! In other words, we fall asleep and dream about the dim images that come out of our unconscious. Like most dreams, we understand the images we see and the 'Sheeted Memories of the Past' through darkened glasses - we see things not as they are in waking life, but imperfectly and with eyelids shut. Truly, dreams are 'Out of space - out of Time'! Everything is ruled by the phantom King of NIGHT! Like Dante descending into Hades, we are confused and have little understanding at first, but gradually upon awakening, the dreamer realizes that he has been granted entry to Eldorado, a place rich in golden imagery that he can make use of in his poetry.
Respect the poet and trust his insight if you wish to understand the poem. Dante came back from his imaginary journey through Hades and Purgatory aware of his own shortcomings to achieve salvation in Paradise, Poe does it in shorter length but with the same valiant spirit!
Poe was an important American writer. Please be assured I believe that. He rightfully belongs in anthologies, and deserves to be remembered. As with many teenagers, I loved Poe and was enthralled with his poems and stories.
Today, I still admire his stories, his philosophy of poetry, and a couple of his poems ('To Helen', 'The Raven', and perhaps another) . He was an immature person who chose, in some ways, to lead a tragic life. And though he may still influence my work somehow, I have decided to leave his poetry behind, and do not consciously use him as a poetic model.