Dark Romanticism. That is a good description of the category in which the work Edgar Allan Poe (1809 – 1849) belongs. “The valley of unrest” is a poem with one stanza, that is about a place where you normally wouldn’t find bustle or noise (unrest): a cemetery.
About “The valley of unrest”
Twenty-seven lines to describe this ‘valley.’ It isn’t a valley. But many people relate a valley to passing away or on to a new life. In this valley, there wasn’t always that much of unrest as Poe described. Those who went to battle silenced the valley. Only after they returned did the peace end.
There are a few strong metaphors included in this poem.
There is a good reason to chose the words silent dell. Dell is a small valley, with lots of grass and it looks like a park with some trees. Locations such as these are known for being peaceful. The word silent implies that there’s something more going on. In the next sentences, we can read that at one point there weren’t people to disturb this silence.
The day brings red sunlight. After a night, the day breaks and it brings red sunlight. Let’s assume that this is blood. It makes sure the silence is disturbed because the silent dell is nothing more than a cemetery.
The chill seas and the misty Hebrides
These metaphors point to a state of calm. Is that right? Maybe. The other option is that Poe would have us believe that the wild seas have calmed down and that there is as much fog as the Hebrides. The Hebrides is an archipelago off the coast of Scotland and is often associated with a rough life. An existence that is dominated by the weather situation.
Poe gives this one away because the lilies weep over a nameless grave. Lilies are very much related to death and especially funerals. It seems that the person in this grave is no longer recognizable. Hence an unnamed grave. A nameless grave is anonymity, but at the same time, something so well knew. You cannot explain what it is, but the feeling is to know it, without actually knowing it.
Hold on! There are more flowers in this poem! The violets are available in countless varieties (myriad types). Violets are the metaphors for particularly beauty. On the other hand, Violet is also a girls’ or female name. Using plural could mean that several girls or women are present. It’s more likely that the clouds that rustle (not float) through the heaven are those soldiers storming a location. No wind, but the rustle implies that these clouds can move. Move over the violets. Can this be the conquest of a city or village? With plundering and even things far more worse?
Yes, these eternal dews that Poe describes. They come down in drops. A metaphor for rain? Or is this more than that: grief or even sadness? In the next sentence, the word weep seems to be a confirmation. Yes, battle causes people to die and this causes people to cry. But not just the ones who survive. It’s those who lost their lives who cry.
Did you find more metaphors in this poem? Tell us! Leave a comment or send us a message.
The valley of unrest
Once it smiled a silent dell
Where the people did not dwell;
They had gone unto the wars,
Trusting to the mild-eyed stars,
Nightly, from their azure towers,
To keep watch above the flowers,
In the midst of which all day
The red sunlight lazily lay.
Now each visitor shall confess
The sad valley’s restlessness.
Nothing there is motionless-
Nothing save the airs that brood
Over the magic solitude.
Ah, by no wind are stirred those trees
That palpitate like the chill seas
Around the misty Hebrides!
Ah, by no wind those clouds are driven
That rustle through the unquiet Heaven
Uneasily, from morn till even,
Over the violets there that lie
In myriad types of the human eye-
Over the lilies there that wave
And weep above a nameless grave!
They wave:- from out their fragrant tops
Eternal dews come down in drops.
They weep:- from off their delicate stems
Perennial tears descend in gems.
— Edgar Allan Poe