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by Edgar Allan Poe


Symbol Analysis

In a poem called "Eldorado," we should expect to hear a whole lot about… Eldorado, right? And that we do—at least, sort of. The speaker doesn't tell us too much about what Eldorado might look like, only that the knight has been searching for a long time and, even by the end of his life, hasn't found it. While Eldorado at first seems to be a real place, by the end of the poem we feel that it represents something else, some dream or hope—an idea about life—that the knight is unable to achieve. And in the end, poof! It's just a shadow, something unrealistic (which might be why "Eldorado" and "shadow" are rhymed throughout the poem).

  • Line 6: The knight has journeyed a long time in search of Eldorado.
  • Lines 11-12: Despite having spent most of his life searching, the knight hasn't found any "spot of ground" that looks like Eldorado.
  • Lines 18: The knight asks the shadow about the location of Eldorado. 
  • Lines 22-24: The shade tells the knight that if he seeks for Eldorado, he must "ride, boldly ride" over the mountains of the Moon and "Down the Valley of the Shadow." That valley is an allusion to the Bible and is also a metaphor for death.

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