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Summary

Stanza 9 Summary Page 1

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Lines 82-44

Then my heart it grew ashen and sober
As the leaves that were crispèd and sere—
As the leaves that were withering and sere,

  • All of a sudden, the speaker gets it. In a second, his heart gets as cold and withered and lifeless as the leaves he mentioned at the beginning of the poem.
  • That's the third time Poe has repeated some version of these lines, for those who are counting. It becomes like a chorus in a song, helping the poem to come together as a whole.

Line 85-86

And I cried—"It was surely October
On this very night of last year

  • As soon as he hears the name of Ulalume, the speaker's memory comes flooding back. He realizes that it was exactly a year ago, on this very day in October, when he last came to this very spot.
  • If things seemed foggy and dreamlike before, suddenly they are terribly real and clear.

Line 87-88

That I journeyed—I journeyed down here—
That I brought a dread burden down here—

  • Now, as it all comes back, he remembers making a trip to this same place. When he made that "journey," he carried a "dread" (terrible, horrifying) "burden" (weight) with him.
  • He's being a little subtle and mysterious here, but putting everything together, we realize he must have carried the body of his dead love, Ulalume, down to this very tomb.

Lines 89-90

On this night of all nights in the year,
Oh, what demon has tempted me here?

  • The speaker starts to wonder if this was just a coincidence. How could it be that he wound up in this same spot, exactly a year later, "on this night of all nights"? He wonders if he was lead down here by some "demon."
  • This is a big swing. Remember how, just a few lines ago, he thought he was being lead down the path by a kind, loving goddess? Now things have completely flipped and he's getting kind of paranoid.

Lines 91-94

Well I know, now, this dim lake of Auber—
This misty mid region of Weir—
Well I know, now, this dank tarn of Auber—
In the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir."

  • By this point, his memory is completely back. Now, as he looks around at the lake and the trees, everything is completely familiar. He's been here before, and he knows it.
  • The last time he mentioned Auber and Weir (lines 26-29), he was telling us all how his "treacherous memory" had deceived him. Now we know what that was about, and the mystery is solved.
  • When these lines repeat, they seem familiar, but also new. It's like an echo moving through the poem, changing a little as it goes.
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