Any insights on Ulalume??? : LUSENET : The Work of Edgar Allan Poe : One Thread

Want to be able to share discussion of this piece 2ith my 7th graders, and could use some additional insights from you out there in Poe-land.

-- Anonymous, April 29, 2000



It had been years since I last read "Ulalume - A Ballad" and had forgotten most of the verse. I have since re-read it several times and did some research. I hope this helps.

The first printing of this poem was in the American Review in December of 1847 with the title "To ___ ___ ___ Ulalume: A Ballad". It was reprinted in the Home Journal and the Saturday Courier in January of 1848 and again in the Journal of Providence, RI in November of 1848.

"Ulalume" was said by Sarah Helen Whitman to have been written sometime shortly after the death of Edgar's wife, Virginia and, ".... represents the conflict in the poet's soul between his passionate love for someone who is symbolized by Astarte or Venus, the goddess of fertility, and his spiritual passion, probably for Virginia, symbolized by Psyche." (Edgar Allan Poe - Complete Tales and Poems)


-- Anonymous, April 30, 2000


Please realize that I'm not an expert on Poe, however, I did have an opportunity years back to study with some experts. I will walk you through this poem step by step.

First stanza: Notice in the first stanza the death symbols from the very beginning, "ashen and sober," "crisped and sere." Also notice the time of the year. When you think of October what comes to mind? Halloween, right. This is not a coincident. Still in the first Stanza, I must say I can't remember the meaning of "Auber"; however, knowing Poe there probably is some meaning. On the other hand, I do think "Weir" is probably referring to Robert Weir who was very famous for his misty paintings of the Hudson River Valley.

Second Stanza: The most important thing about this stanza is that his heart is volcanic. This lets the reader know that the narrator is struggling emotionally. He is also traveling with Psyche his soul. I'm not sure of the significance of Yaanek, and I would be interested to know what you find.

Third Stanza: Again, notice the death symbols and the fact that his memories are treacherous. Also notice that the narrator has now forgotten the time of year. Also notice it is the "NIGHT OF ALL NIGHTS OF THE YEAR," again making reference to Halloween. However, notice at the end of the stanza he knows he has been here before.

Fourth Stanza: He refers to the moon in a half shape when he says duplicate horn. Astarte is the goddess of fertility and sexual desires. This is the most important part of the poem.

Fifth Stanza: "She is warmer than Dian" (goddess of the moon) and she promises him a path to Lethean skies. The river of Lethe is the river of forgetfulness. So she is tempting him to forget.

Six Stanza: His soul is worried that this threatens his integrity. That he is going to betray his lost love.

Seventh Stanza: "Sibyllic" means prophetess light.

Eighth & Ninth Stanza: However, his soul leads him to a tomb of Ulalume, his lost love. Poe ends with the death symbols again and tells us that last halloween he entombed his lost love. However, in the end he didn't betray the memory of his lost love.

Hope this helps!

-- Anonymous, June 16, 2000

First, please know that I appreciate this poem solely for its depth, but I would be damned if I could not decipher it! All of the responses on this page were very insightful, particularly Jack's. However, I noticed you had some problems with some of the vocabulary in this poem. This site breaks down voacabulary and other parts of Poe's Ulalume. Also, I have found an unbelievablely sensuous reading of this poem by Jeff Buckly. Email me if you are interested and I'll send the link.

-- Anonymous, January 27, 2001

I see you came across the Bukley recitation. He did an absolutely beautiful reading of it, especially with the Western gothic guitars meandering in the background.

One of the lines that moves me the most is when he recites: "I could see that the tears were not dry on her cheeks, where the worm never dies."

I just thought that reference to the grave was so completely moving.

Too bad Buckley is gone, I would have desired him to recite so much more, as well as incoporate some established poetry into song.

-- Anonymous, January 30, 2002

Moderation questions? read the FAQ