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by Edgar Allan Poe

Ulalume Theme of Man and the Natural World

Once you start looking, you'll see that Poe uses a ton of natural imagery in "Ulalume."  There's that big part about the volcano, but also a pretty detailed look at the crazy landscape.  More importantly, be sure to check out how nature and the speaker's thoughts and feelings seem to be connected.  In "Ulalume," the boundary between the inside (the mind and soul) and the outside (the natural world) is pretty blurry.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. Are those "woodlandish ghouls" part of the natural world, or do they belong more to the human side of things?
  2. Do you get a real sense of where the speaker is?  Does the poem create a vivid picture in your head, or do you just get a few random snapshots of trees and a lake?
  3. Is the tomb different from other things in the poem?  Is it part of the natural setting?
  4. How about the star/Venus/Astarte?  What do you think she's doing here?  Is she a figment of the narrator's imagination? Is she part of the natural world – the morning star?

Chew on This

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

The supernatural characters in the poem (e.g. Psyche, Astarte, the ghouls) provide a link between the human and the natural worlds. They create a bridge between the speaker's thoughts and feelings and the world around him.

The tomb is set apart as the only completely non-natural thing in the poem. This creates an important division between the sympathetic natural world and the cold, hard reality of human life.

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