“Eldorado” – A poem by Edgar A. Poe

Context: El Dorado means the Golden One in Spanish. Originally El Hombre Dorado (the golden man), or El Rey Dorado (the golden king), was the term used by the Spanish Empire to describe a mythical tribal chief (zipa) of the Muisca native people of Colombia, who, as an initiation rite, covered himself with gold dust and submerged in Lake Guatavita. The legends surrounding El Dorado changed over time, as it went from being a man, to a city, to a kingdom, and then finally an empire. In Edgar A. Poe’s poem from 1849 Eldorado is a land.

The poem is technically advanced. Take notice on how the words are bulit up. Not only do they create a delicate story about the knight’s life journey, it has a special rythm too. Structurally, the poem consists of four stanzas, each having six lines, known as sestets. It is composed in iambic diameter. What is the message of the poem? Do we all journey like the knight in our personal search for happiness and wealth in this life? Is the knight in Poe’s poem successful in his mission? Who is the pilgrim shadow? What do we learn from him?

Themes: The knight, romantic ideals, Life, vasted opportunities, seeking Paradise, ageing

Eldorado

Gaily bedight,
A gallant knight,
In sunshine and in shadow,
Had journeyed long,
Singing a song,
In search of Eldorado.

But he grew old—
This knight so bold—
And o’er his heart a shadow
Fell as he found
No spot of ground
That looked like Eldorado.

And, as his strength
Failed him at length,
He met a pilgrim shadow—
“Shadow,” said he,
“Where can it be—
This land of Eldorado?”

“Over the Mountains
Of the Moon,
Down the Valley of the Shadow,
Ride, boldly ride,”
The shade replied—
“If you seek for Eldorado!”

Sources:

wikipedia.org

Edgar A. Poe, 1809-1849
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