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“Eldorado”: Critical Detailed Analysis And Summary

Poetic form

Edgar Allan Poe’s Eldorado is a poem that is divided into sets of six lines or “sestets”. AABCCB is the standard rhyme form used in these sestets, with the poet modifying the end sounds according to his way. Throughout the entire poem, two of the lines in this work have similar endings.

In each of the four stanzas, lines three and six end with the rhyming phrases “shadow” and “Eldorado”. By intensifying the beat, a refrain is produced that creates the phrases with a melancholy melodic tone.

Less consistency may be seen in the lines concerning the meter. The stanza does not adhere to any specific metrical structure. The stanzas alternate between trimester and iambic dimeter instead.

Eldora Poem Summary

The poem “Eldorado” by Edgar Allan Poe used the metaphor of a knight searching for the lost city to discuss the futility of dreams and lifelong endeavours. The poem starts with the speaker stating at the outset that was once a knight who had lived his entire life through “sunshine and shadow”.

He was looking for Eldorado, a fabled city of unlimited gold that was thought to be a lost paradise. The knight spent a lifetime looking but he was never able to locate the city.

Amidst the poem, the speaker confesses how the knight’s power was beginning to fail him. He was approaching death and was getting fairly old. At this point, he was faced with a shade along the road.

He was informed that the only way to get to Eldorado is through death by this individual, or possibly a spirit from the afterlife. He must travel through the areas like the “valley of the shadow of death” in the Bible.

Eldorado: Analysis

Stanza 1

Gaily bedight,

A gallant knight,

In sunshine and in shadow,

Had journeyed long,

Singing a song,

In search of Eldorado

The speaker describes a “gallant knight” in the opening of the first stanza of the poem “Eldorado”. The knight is described by the odd phrase “Gaily Bedlight”, which simply means “being dressed”, and is not commonly used. He wears garish or vibrant attire. In his fearlessness, he also exhibits classic knightly traits.

It seems that the man is on a vacation and through “sunshine and shadow”, which means through gloomy and cheery areas.

He has already travelled for a considerable amount of time but still, he is in a good mood. Poe’s claim that the man was “Singing a song” signifies that, and the sixth line clearly states the knight’s objective. He’s seeking Eldorado, which is the legendary lost city.

Most people believe that Eldorado was a city in South America. For over 500 years, explorers have been trying to find it without success. The place’s greatest draw was that it was supposed to be made of large quantities of gold. Additionally, some stories mention the city to be a social paradise.

With this knowledge, it is simple to understand why the knight has been on the road for so long. He will probably be on the road for longer and never arrive where he is heading to.

Stanza 2

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

In the second stanza, the speaker said that the knight ‘got old”. As he had hoped, his voyage did not come to an end. However, it is seen that he is still on the road and is now in danger of perishing. He had once been “so daring” as to embark on this journey. But things have not turned as well as expected to be right now.

The knight’s heart is covered with darkness which is a recurring image in this tale. By this darkness, the remaining hope and light are blocked out of it. There is “No area of ground / that looked like Eldorado” which is the sole reason for it.

 Stanza 3

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

The knight finally crosses the finish line of his journey in the third stanza. His resilience, which has gotten him thus far is about to fail him. But something shifts as a “pilgrim shadow” greets him.

There are no specifics concerning this person’s identity or the location of their pilgrimage. The tone of the poem is so eerie that it is most likely that the subject is deceased. They might be a ghost that the knight has encountered on his recent excursion into death.

Instead of discussing this person’s enigma, the knight asks him his most urgent question: “Where can it be/ this land of Eldorado?”

Stanza 4

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

In the final stanza, it seems as though the “shade” did not give any useful reply, but it referred to the knight’s current condition of affairs. It also relates to the poem’s main idea, which is the futility of chasing one’s dream.

The instructions initially seem to point in a direction. He is instructed to travel “Over the Mountains” by the creature. It then goes in a different direction. On the moon are mountains. The next step is for him to ride “Down the Valley of the Shadow”. This is the phrase that has been directly quoted from Psalm 23:4, which describes the valley of the shadow of death as being traversed.

The mountains also have a connection to something that is not directly related to the poetry. It was believed that the “Mountains of the Moon” region was where the Nile River originated. Their snow-capped peaks gave them a moon-like appearance.

One can infer from these sentences that the knight’s search was completely fruitless. Eldorado is a destination that can only be reached by death or by bringing death upon a traveller.

Eldorado: Theme

Life becomes a journey that people go through to search for various things such as money, status, happiness, bravery, acceptance, adventure, God, answers to difficult problems, and so forth. But nobody ever succeeds in their endeavours realistically.

An entrepreneur aspires to make more money, a scientist tries to invent more new theories, and a mystic aspires to make more new revelations about God because Man is made to seek. After all, if he finds what he seeks, he dies. Poe tells the story of a knight seeking fortune and riches in the country of Eldorado.

The knight’s ardent search for treasure ultimately results in death even after much fruitless seeking. The yearning for wealth and treasure is the poem’s main theme. The poem’s deeper significance is revealed by the use of literary devices, symbols, relevance, and personal experiences.

Poe’s deft use of these components emphasizes how ignorant people are in their pursuit of wealth and success.


Poe’s lesson in, “Eldorado” is to avoid pursuing material wealth. The wealth one acquires after death is the only actual riches. The poem’s knight spends years hopelessly seeking material riches, which leaves him discouraged and close to death. The knight was informed of “Down the Valley of the Shadow” when he inquired about the location of Eldorado.

The major message of this implication is that true riches are found in Heaven, and not on Earth and that all riches pursued on Earth results in either hopelessness or death.


The phrase directly translates to “The Gilded One” or “The Golden One” in Spanish. “El Dorado” is a term that refers to a fabled city of gold buried deep in South America. The two famous Spanish travellers “Fransisco de Orellana” and “Gonzalo Pizzaro” tried to locate this city.

The Spanish were not only the ones being searched for. The renowned English explorer Sir Walter Raleigh also attempted to locate the city.

However, these adventurers fell short. When the renowned Alexander von Humbolt, a Prussian Naturalist asserted that he had conclusively demonstrated that the city was a myth, then the initial widespread confidence in the reality of the city began to wane slightly.

The references in Edgar Allan Poe’s writing demonstrate that he was both aware of and had read some of the works of Humbolt’s, as is evident from the references in his writing. Humbolt was even honoured in Poe’s well-known prose poem Eureka.

Literary Devices used in EldoradoEldorado

In “Eldorado”, Edgar Allan Poe employs several literary techniques. They consist of but are not limited to, imagery, repetition, and enjambment. The latter is one of “Eldorado’s” most significant literary devices. There are other intriguing instances, such as the opening lines of verse four. “Over the Mountains of the Moon”, Down the Valley of the Shadow, they proclaimed.

Enjambment is a typical stylistic technique that is used in poetry to end lines and introduces new lines in unexpected locations. It also aids in the regulation of the reader’s pace as they only read the poetry. For instance, in the second stanza, the transitions between lines 4, 5, and 6 are pretty awkward.

Finally, the poem contains a few instances of repetition. The usage of the term “Eldorado” after each stanza is the most glaring example.


What is ‘Eldorado‘?

El Dorado is usually referred to as “The City of Gold”, which is a mythical city that has been frequently mentioned in books, poems, and movies. The city itself is sometimes associated with the archetype of the unattainable objective. Many of the city’s legends have emphasized the voyage to El Dorado rather than El Dorado’s actual location, causing a number of people to assume the city is just a myth and doesn’t really exist.

The poem “Eldorado” by Edgar Allan Poe is a well-known example of how this city has been depicted in fiction. Poe’s poem emphasizes the notion that the city is an impassable destination because the tale suggests that the Knight has been looking for the city for a while but has not yet located the City of Gold.

The city is said to be located “Down the valley of the shadow” and “Over the mountain of the moon”, but the knight only receives those cryptic statements from the enigmatic figure as he proceeds on his mission.

What is the significance of the title ‘Eldorado’?

In 1849, Edgar Allan Poe penned “Eldorado” in response to California’s Gold Rush. The fact that his first response to a national event was to discuss Eldorado implied that he saw the rush for gold to be an unattainable ambition that would only lead to disappointment.

What is meant by Gaily Bedight?

The opening lines of the poem are stuffed with a few odd words. One of them is “Gaily bedight” which refers to being “arranged”, “dressed” or even “appareled”.

 What do you think the land of Eldorado represents in the poem?

First of all, it should be noted that Eldorado is a fictitious land of gold represented in this poem. It might be compared to a terrestrial Atlantis. There has been a never-ending search for the city made entirely of gold as it stands for optimism, mystery, and intrigue.

 Why do you think the Knight was looking for Eldorado?

The speaker of the poem states at the outset that there was once a knight who had lived his entire life travelling through “sunshine and shadow”. He was looking for Eldorado because he knew that it was a city of unlimited gold that was thought to be a lost paradise. The Knight had spent a lifetime looking for it. But it seems he was never able to locate the city.

What is the mood of the poem ‘Eldorado‘?

The heroic Knight in Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “Eldorado” is on the prowl for the fabled gold city of Eldorado. “Eldorado” literally means “The Golden”. The Knight spent his entire life looking for this fabled city, the narrator tells the reader.

In the poem’s epilogue, the shadow instructs the narrator on how to locate Eldorado even after his death. Initially, the mood of this poem begins upbeat as the narrator describes the bold, gallant knight and the epic pursuit of Eldorado, but it soon turns dark and depressing. When the shadow speaks to the knight, it evokes a sense of despair because of the talk of death.