by Edgar Allan Poe
Dream-Land Theme of Man and the Natural World
"Dream-Land" is mostly about sadness and spirits, but, at the same time, Poe sure spends a lot of time talking about the landscape. In a sense, it's kind of like a twisted nature poem. The whole middle part of the poem reads like a (really trippy) travel guide. We get a kind of tour of the natural sights in "Dream-Land": "And, on your left, you'll see the ocean exploding into the sky, which is on fire." OK, maybe this is weirder than a guidebook, but it's still all about how the natural world looks, and how it makes us feel, or maybe reflects our feelings.
Questions About Man and the Natural World
- Why do you think this poem spends so much time talking about the scenery of Dream-Land? What's the relationship between the speaker's feelings and the mountains and rivers and lakes?
- When the speaker talks about the weird scenery he's seeing, can you picture it in your head? Is there a particular line that seems especially descriptive?
- If you were to make a movie of this poem, how would you do it? What would be the best way to show what Poe describes? Hand-drawn animation? Computer graphics? Live actors? Would you film it in 3D? Could you fully capture Poe's vision?
- Do you tend to dream about strange and far-away places? Does this poem feel like a normal dream to you?
Chew on This
Poe creates a landscape that exactly matches both the pain and the loneliness that the speaker feels. In the speaker's dream, the natural world becomes a mirror for his mental state.
Despite the intensity of the descriptive language in this poem, the specific features of the natural world remain vague. This amplifies the dream-like, intangible quality of the world Poe describes.