Special Sub-Topic: Poe's "Ulalume"
|In what month does the poem "Ulalume" take place?|
October. "It was night in the lonesome October of my most immemorial year..." The gloomy poem is set in the month of October, which is appropriate for its imagery of skies that are "ashen and sober" and leaves that are "withering and sere". The narrator mentions the "night of all nights in the year", which may be a reference to Hallows' Eve, or Halloween, the night of all souls.
|In what year was "Ulalume" first published?|
1847. The poem first appeared in "American Review" in December 1847. Interestingly, Poe's young wife, Virginia, died earlier that year in January.
|Many literary critics believe that the word "Ulalume" comes from the Latin word "ululare", meaning|
to wail. Other critics have surmised that the name comes from the verb "ululate", meaning to cry loudly.
|There are two characters in the poem "Ulalume": the narrator, and this being.|
Psyche. Psyche is simply another name for "soul"- in this case, the narrator's conscience or inner being. "Here once, through an alley Titanic, of cypress, I roamed with my soul- of cypress, with Psyche, my soul..."
|What goddess is mentioned in "Ulalume"?|
Astarte. "..Out of which a miraculous crescent Arose with a duplicate horn- Astarte's bediamoned crescent, distinct with its duplicate horn." Astarte was the goddess of love and war among the peoples of the ancient Near East, including Phoenicians; her Akkadian counterpart was Ishtar, her Egyptian counterpart Isis. It is surmised that the star Venus appears in the sky at this point in the poem, Venus of course being the Roman equivalent of Astarte.
|The poem takes place "down by the dank tarn of Auber". What's a tarn?|
a mountain lake. A tarn is defined as a "small mountain lake, especially one formed by glaciers". (Yahoo Reference Dictionary) Also mentioned is the "misty mid region of Weir", theorized to refer to the foggy landscape paintings of a nineteenth-century painter named Robert Walter Weir.
|Fill in the missing word: "She replied- 'Ulalume- Ulalume- tis the _____ of thy lost Ulalume'".|
vault. "'Tis the vault of thy lost Ulalume'". This is spoken by Psyche, the narrator's soul, as they happen upon the tomb of the narrator's beloved, hidden in the "ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir". The sudden realization comes upon the narrator that at this time the previous year, he had brought "a dread burden down here"- the body of his beloved Ulalume.
|Like many of Poe's works, "Ulalume" is filled with references to mythology. In the line "To point us the path to the skies- To the Lethean peace of the skies-". Where would you find Lethe?|
Hades. Lethe was the river in ancient Hades that enabled the damned to forget; in this case, allowed the narrator to forget the pain of losing Ulalume. (Ignorance is bliss).
|In the poem, Psyche says, "Sadly this ____ I mistrust".|
Star. The star she is referring to is Venus, which is bathing them in an otherworldly light, misleading the narrator. The narrator thinks Psyche is just being silly: "Thus I pacified Psyche and kissed her, And tempted her out of her gloom- and conquered her scruples and gloom.."
|There are many astrological and astronomical references in "Ulalume". What zodiac sign is mentioned?|
Leo. "Come up, in despite of the Lion, To shine on us with her bright eyes-Come up through the lair of the Lion, With love in her luminous eyes." The Lion, of course, being the constellation Leo.
Did you find these entries particularly interesting, or do you have comments / corrections to make? Let the author know!
Send the author a thank you or
Submit a correction