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The Leaves

Symbol Analysis

These dry brown leaves give us another image of the dark, cold mood that's hanging over this poem at the beginning. The speaker also makes it pretty clear that these leaves are symbolic of his own emotional state.

  • Line 2: We think this poem is meant to be read aloud and to be heard. Why do we think that? Because so many of the words sound like what they mean. That trick is called onomatopoeia. Take a word like "crispèd" for example. It means dry, crunchy, crackly. Now say the word out loud. Can't you just hear the crackly sound in the word itself? The word sounds like what it means.
  • Line 3: This is the first of many (almost) refrains in the poem. A real refrain, like in a song, is just a repeated line ("You can stand under my umbrella…ella…ella…"). In "Ulalume," the line repeats, but with a change of one word. That's why we're going to call it an almost refrain. It emphasizes the line, and echoes it, but it also brings in something new.
  • Line 82: In this line, the leaves come back. This time, however, they are part of a simile. The speaker is comparing his own heart to the dry, crispy leaves. That's a big theme throughout the poem: the connection between the way he's feeling inside and the way the world outside of him looks.

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