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Themes

When "The Haunted Palace" starts out, everything is awesome. The valley is green, the air is "sweet" and "gentle" (and it even smells good). There's just a sort of joyful feeling everywhere, and the imagery of the poem reinforces that feeling constantly. The adjectives, for example, are consistently positive. The different parts of the palace are referred to as "radiant" (4), "glorious" (9), "sparkling" (28). The beauty of everything in the first four stanzas of the poem is designed to lift your spirits and make you smile. Of course, it won't last… but we'll get to that. For now: don't worry; be happy.

Questions About Happiness

  1. Why does this poem spend so much time talking about happy stuff before it gets to the "haunted palace" from the title?
  2. Does the beginning of this poem make you happy? Did that feeling go away at the end? Why or why not?
  3. Is happiness the main mood at the beginning of the poem? What else might you call it? Relaxed? Peaceful? Something else? Why?
  4. Is this a poem about feelings? Is it about happiness and sadness, or more about sanity and madness? What's the difference between those two ideas? How might the speaker answer that question?

Chew on This

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

The speaker of "The Haunted Palace" spends most of his time talking about happiness so that the feeling of the loss of that happiness at the end will be even more intense and profound. Those two thumbs way up come crashing down all the more dramatically.

Happiness… um, shmappiness. While the poem talks about happiness at the beginning, that feeling is just a metaphor for sanity, which is the real focus of the opening stanzas.

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