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Ulalume

Ulalume

  

by Edgar Allan Poe

Analysis: Setting

Where It All Goes Down

From the beginning of "Ulalume," Poe is pretty specific about the setting:

It was hard by the dim lake of Auber,
In the misty mid region of Weir—
It was down by the dank tarn of Auber,
In the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.

OK, we get that we're by a lake called Auber, which is located in a forest in the land of Weir…but how, exactly, should we picture Weir? Certainly isn't a place we've ever been to.

We imagine the setting looking like the set of an old-school horror movie – maybe sort of like Nosferatu, a 1922 silent horror movie about a vampire. Have you seen that one? You should. (You can watch it here. Thank you, YouTube.)

Anyway, we imagine that, like one of these old films, "Ulalume" is black and white. Everything is super dramatic, with big expressions, big gestures. (Poe is kind of a drama queen, right?) There has to be a whole orchestra swelling and booming every time a monster jumps out from behind a tree. All the sets are painted and cut out of wood. The shadows are huge and black, and everyone is wearing elaborate costumes. When Astarte comes out, the picture a little blurry, and she has a misty look like a silent movie queen. Psyche's wings are made out of wire and feathers and paper mache, but they still look really cool. Basically, everything looks a little unreal, a little larger than life, and that's what makes it great.

That's how we picture the setting, anyway. How about you? What do you think this "ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir" is like?

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