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by Edgar Allan Poe

Stanza 2 Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Lines 9-10

Bottomless vales and boundless floods,
And chasms, and caves, and Titan woods,

  • As we get into the next stanza, the focus shifts. We start to hear a little bit about the landscape of this new spot. More than anything else, it's really, really big.
  • A lot of the words in these lines are meant to give us a sense of infinite space. The valleys are "bottomless," the floods are "boundless" (without boundaries or limits). There are also chasms (deep, wide openings in the earth), caves, and Titan (another way of saying gigantic) forests.
  • This place is meant to be jaw-droppingly spectacular, impossible to take in.

Lines 11-12

With forms that no man can discover
For the tears that drip all over;

  • There's something about this new land that is beyond comprehension. The speaker gets a strong feeling from the place, but can't describe it. The shapes of things are hard to pin down these are "forms that no man can discover." In the weirder moments, it starts to sound like an insane hallucination.
  • Apparently this whole landscape is drenched in tears "that run all over." Maybe that's why we can't "discover the forms," because our eyes and the world are clouded with tears.
  • To be honest, we're not exactly sure what these two lines mean, and we think that's exactly the point. We're in a world beyond normal comprehension here, and the speaker is trying to describe things that can't quite be described.
  • The take-home message is that you are supposed to imagine a huge, weird land so full of sadness that tears cover it like rain. Our speaker is not a super-happy guy, as you can tell.

Lines 13-14

Mountains toppling evermore
Into seas without a shore;

  • More amazing, weird landscapes. The mountains are constantly and forever ("evermore") falling into endless oceans.
  • Do you feel the surging energy in these lines? The speaker is building a whole world of emotion and imagination here.

Lines 15-16

Seas that restlessly aspire,
Surging, unto skies of fire;

  • Apparently the oceans are always stretching, reaching upward. They aspire (hope, dream) of reaching the sky, exploding upward to meet it.
  • Again, this language is charged with emotion, and even the ocean seems to have feelings and a mind of its own.
  • Of course the sky is also on fire, because, why not? It's a Poe poem; the sky would have to be in fire.

Lines 17-19

Lakes that endlessly outspread
Their lone waters— lone and dead,—
Their still waters— still and chilly

  • There are lakes too. If the seas and the mountains were full of action and fiery excitement, these lakes are exactly the opposite. They are endless too, but they are completely quiet, lonely, and freezing cold.
  • Poe spends a lot of time on this description. He's heated us up with the raging activity in the middle of the stanza, and now he's slowing things down again, helping us to feel how completely sad this world is. There's nothing in these lakes but cold, dead loneliness that never ends.

Line 20

With the snows of the lolling lily.

  • We end this stanza with an image of snow. It's a little mysterious and sad, but also kind of beautiful and haunting.
  • The speaker identifies it as the snow of the "lolling lily." That's a kind of pretty, quiet, almost goofy-sounding last phrase (try saying it a few times without smiling). Poe is a master of pacing, and here he's slowed us all the way down, so that we are left contemplating white flowers, white snow, and the quiet, lazy image of a lolling lily.
  • Again, it's not exactly clear where we are or what we are looking at, but the words make a kind of music that wraps us up and carries us away. It's just like in a dream; you feel and understand things even though they don't make logical sense.

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