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Edgar Allan Poe – Ulalume

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“Ulalume” is written by Edgar Allan Poe in 1847. Like many his other poems, e.g. The Raven or Annabel Lee are about narrator´s loss of a beautiful woman, who dies, also “Ulalume” concentrates to this point.

We all can easily find out, that the poem takes place in the October, when the sky is grey and the withering leaves feature us the autumn season. He mentions stars on the sky fade as well as the night and the morning is coming. He has got a serious chat with his own soul, which he named Psyche and he does not know, where him the night leading. He used a description of a bleak, dead, depressing landscape in October. There’s a dark lake, brown leaves, mist, and a generally haunted feeling. He is in an excited, passionate state, yet he is also strangely forgetful, unable to remember where he is, or what time of year it is. Later, he realizes that he is standing in front of the vault, where Ulalume had been buried one year ago.

This poem shows that the narrator is not only sad about Ulalume´s death, but that her death is totally devastating for him. It also shows the narrator´s dependence on Ulalume and her love. By withering leaves Poe means that his thoughts are palsied and by talking to himself, that he is unconscious all the time while visiting the grave.

„Ulalume“ has a strong sense of rhythm and musicality as well as many others of Poe´s poems. Verses are built to create feelings of sadness and anquish. Poe consider the topic of „death of a beautiful woman“ as the most poetical topic in the world. We could also say that this topic is a kind of autobiographical considering the death of his wife Virginia.

Poe indirectly uses mythology, e.g. when the narrator sees the bright star, Venus, the morning star and a goddess, which is connected with fertility and sexuality. Also Mount Yanek is connected with a volcano, which can mean, that his soul is volcanic.

Some lines:

The skies they were ashen and sober;
* He starts directly in the middle of things, staring straight up at the sky. * The speaker is telling us a story about something that once happened to him, according the past tense * By this line, we can tell, that we are in the author´s world. The skies he sees are “ashen”, which mean gray, pale and “sober”, serious, subdued, maybe a little sad. There are no rainbows. In Poe’s world, we do not see a lot of the sun.

The leaves they were crispèd and sere—
* The leaves on the trees aren’t looking much better than the skies, because he uses the words such as „crispèd“, which in modern language means crispy, dry or dead and the word „sere“, which might mean dry, brown, lifeless.

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