By Edgar Allan Poe

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!”

Summary of Eldorado

  • Popularity of “Eldorado”: Written by a great American writer of horror stories, Edgar Allen Poe, this short and crispy poem “Eldorado” bears all imprints of the writer and his writing style. The poem first appeared in 1849 when the Californian Gold Rush was at its peak. The people were thronging to the place, and Poe could not stop himself from expressing his thoughts in one or the other way. Therein lies the popularity of the poem.
  • “Eldorado” As a Representative of a Search for Utopia: The speaker of the poem, who is an anonymous person, states to have seen a beautifully dressed brave knight who is looking for Eldorado. He is singing a song about his search, not caring about good or bad weather. He continues his search but cannot find anything until he meets a Shadow to whom he asks for the land. He was almost on the verge of desperation at that time when he met the Shadow. When he asks the Shadow about that land, the Shadow replies that it lies beyond the mountains of the Moon. But the advice is attached with the disclosure that he must continue riding boldly.
  • Major Themes in “Eldorado”: Search for a utopia, courage in the face of adversity, and optimism are three major thematic strands of “Eldorado.” Although Poe keeps his mysterious element in the poem from the first to the last verse, such as the anonymous speaker, the anonymous knight, and the anonymous land, he gives vent to his expression about a utopia. He knows that no such land exists in the world, yet the search must continue. The human quest for such a utopia must not stop. It is because it is what makes a person courageous and bold, as the Shadow also advises the knight about the same. That is why a person stays optimistic until the end of his/her life, or else there is nothing to feel happy about or at. When the Shadow advises the knight, he must ride boldly. He means to give him hope that he will really reach that place though the impossibility lies in the mountains that are on the moon.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in Eldorado

Edgar Allan Poe’s skillful use of various literary devices to enhance the intended impact of his poem is clear in every verse. Some of the major literary devices are analyzed below.

  1. Allusion: It means to use references from society, history, or culture to stress the main idea. The poet has used the allusion to El Dorado, a mythical city of fabulous riches, or to the Moon, an astronomical body.
  2. Alliteration: It means to use initial consonants in successive words. The poet shows the use of consonant sounds in successive words, such as /h/ in “his heart.”
  3. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /o/ in “That looked like Eldorado” and the sound of /i/ in “Failed him at length.”
  4. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /sh/ and /d/ in “In sunshine and in shadow” and the sound of /h/ in “And o’er his heart a shadow.”
  5. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. Edgar Allan Poe used imagery in this poem, such as “In sunshine and in shadow”, “Singing a song” and “And o’er his heart a shadow.”
  6. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between objects that are different in nature. The poet used the metaphor of a journey for a person’s quest for riches or utopia.
  7. Personification: It means to attribute human emotions to inanimate objects. The poet has used the personification of the Shadow as if it has life and emotions of its own.
  8. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from the literal meanings. The poem shows symbols, such as song, knight, bedight, and shadow, to create a mysterious situation.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in Eldorado

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is an analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Diction: It means the type of language. The poem shows good use of formal, poetic, and melodic diction.
  2. End Rhyme: It means to use verses having matching end words. Edgar Allan Poe shows the use of end rhyme, such as bedight/knight and long/song.
  3. Rhyme Scheme: This poem shows the rhyme scheme of AABCCB in each of its stanzas.
  4. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are four stanzas, with each having six verses.
  5. Tone: It means the voice of the text. The poem shows a mysterious, happy, and disclosing tone.

Quotes to be Used

The following lines are useful to quote when talking about some mythical or mysterious place.

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