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Dark Angels

Symbol Analysis

There are a lot of creepy critters in this poem, but these are the first ones we meet. Poe doesn't tell us exactly who they are, or if they are the same or different from the "Ghouls" and "sheeted memories" we meet later. For now, they help set the mood. We don't know where we are, or where we are going, but if we are surrounded by ill angels, it's probably bad news. Plus, putting a supernatural image in the second line lets us know that we're not in the everyday world.

  • Line 2: This is our first glimpse of the "ill angels." We think that phrase has a spooky, mysterious feel. We know this must refer to some kind of evil spirit. Still, it's a little hard to tell exactly what an "ill angel" would look like. That's partly because the phrase is a bit of a paradox. Angels are supposed to be full of goodness and light and health, so using the word "ill" to describe them is surprising and a little contradictory. That works perfectly for Poe, since he wants us to feel a little lost in this strange new land.
  • Line 52: Now, at the end of the poem, the angels come back. This line is exactly the same as line 2. Repeated lines like this in a poem are called a refrain. We've learned a lot about Dream-Land by this point, but in a weird way, we don't really have a better idea of who these angels are. By this point we'll definitely link them to the other spirits we've met, but they remain mysterious. We think that's exactly the point. If you could clearly see and explain everything you saw in Dream-Land, it wouldn't be Dream-Land, right?

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