by Edgar Allan Poe
Ulalume Man and the Natural World Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Line)
The leaves they were crispèd and sere—
The leaves they were withering and sere; (lines 2-3)
When this poem starts out, it isn't dealing with people or feelings or plot. It's just giving us a look around at the natural world, letting us absorb the landscape. Still, even though we haven't gotten to the action yet, these descriptions are preparing us for it. Dead leaves are a pretty obvious symbol for death, loss, and all that good stuff. By putting us in a late-October mood, Poe prepares us for the terrible things to come.
It was down by the dank tarn of Auber,
In the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir. (lines 8-9)
The lake and the woods almost feel like characters in this poem to us. The speaker brings them up over and over again, and they start to take on a kind of personality. We never meet these ghouls, but we can just imagine them lurking behind these spooky trees. This isn't really a nature poem per se, but the landscape really helps to make it rich and moving.
These were days when my heart was volcanic
As the scoriac rivers that roll—
As the lavas that restlessly roll (lines 13-15)
Honestly, this is our favorite part of the poem. What a great image. The speaker's heart isn't just bubbling with passion – it's exploding, erupting! We don't stop there. This epic simile rolls on and on. We can almost feel the heat from the lava as it rolls down the mountain. By the end, we've got a vivid sense of how strongly the speaker felt back then. Maybe we also feel like we've been on a little side-trip, an expedition to Mt. Yaanek at the North Pole.