• Poul Ruders
  • Dreamland (2010)

  • Edition Wilhelm Hansen Copenhagen (World)
  • cl.str4tet
  • S
  • 23 min
  • Poul Ruders
  • Edgar Alan Poe
  • English

Programme Note

For Soprano, Clarinet, and String Quartet

Text by Edgar Allan Poe, 1844

When looking for an interpretation on the internet of Edgar Allan Poe´s Dreamland, it turns out that there are as many interpretations as there are interpreters. Some believe it is the mad hallucinations of a drug addict (could be Poe himself), others see it as Poe´s equivalent of Dante´s Inferno – a tale from the Underworld.

One thing is certain, though. Dreamland is a ”fantasy”, the vision of a dreamvoyager arriving at and staying in a mythical location beyond and between space and time, a place of strange majesty and surreal spectacles, such as: “Mountains toppling evermore into seas without a shore”. At the same time it is a “peaceful, soothing region” – a mystical ”wonderland” not unlike the fabled Eldorado, which is mentioned in the poem.

Poe biographer Arthur Hobson Quinn called it “one of Poe´s finest creations”, with each phrase contributing to one effect: a human traveler wandering between life and death.

Dreamland first appeared in print in America in the June 1844 issue of Graham´s
Magazine, and was subsequently published in a June 1845 edition of The Broadway
Journal.

DREAMLAND
By a route obscure and lonely,
Haunted by ill angels only,
Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT,
On a black throne reigns upright,
I have reached these lands but newly
From an ultimate dim Thule-
From a wild clime that lieth, sublime,
Out of SPACE - out of TIME.
Bottomless vales and boundless floods,
And chasms, and caves, and Titan woods,
With forms that no man can discover
For the tears that drip all over;
Mountains toppling evermore
Into seas without a shore;
Seas that restlessly aspire,
Surging, unto skies of fire;
Lakes that endlessly outspread
Their lone waters- lone and dead,-
Their still waters- still and chilly
With the snows of the lolling lily.
By the lakes that thus outspread
Their lone waters, lone and dead,-
Their sad waters, sad and chilly
With the snows of the lolling lily,-
By the mountains- near the river
Murmuring lowly, murmuring ever,-
By the grey woods,- by the swamp
Where the toad and the newt encamp-
By the dismal tarns and pools
Where dwell the Ghouls,-
By each spot the most unholy-
In each nook most melancholy-
There the traveller meets aghast
Sheeted Memories of the Past-
Shrouded forms that start and sigh
As they pass the wanderer by-
White-robed forms of friends long given,
In agony, to the Earth- and Heaven.
For the heart whose woes are legion
’Tis a peaceful, soothing region-
For the spirit that walks in shadow
’Tis- oh, ’tis an Eldorado!
But the traveller, travelling through it,
May not- dare not openly view it!
Never its mysteries are exposed
To the weak human eye unclosed;
So wills its King, who hath forbid
The uplifting of the fringed lid;
And thus the sad Soul that here passes
Beholds it but through darkened glasses.
By a route obscure and lonely,
Haunted by ill angels only,
Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT,
On a black throne reigns upright,
I have wandered home but newly
From this ultimate dim Thule.
Edgar Allan Poe

- Poul Ruders, July 2010



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