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Themes

"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

  1. 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?
  2. 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?
  3. 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?
  4. Do you tend to dream about strange and far-away places? Does this poem feel like a normal dream to you?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

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.

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