"Ulalume" by Edgar Allan Poe is about a man who wishes to be with his dead lover, in Heaven. In an excerpt of the poem (from lines 42-82) the narrator speaks of mourning for a lost love, and wants to follow her to Heaven, or "the skies," as mentioned in line 4 (of the excerpt). But the Greek goddess Psyche, weeping implores him not to go. Poe tells the grieving goddess about the beauty of the night sky, and that surely "they" will make it to Heaven safely if they follow the stars. This assurance by Poe apparently allays Psyche's fears, and together they go on to a tomb. Psyche tells the narrator that within lies his "lost" Ulalume; this word choice is an allusion to death.
This work by Poe is fraught with figurative literary devices. The first line in the chosen excerpt of "Ulalume" refers to a "She;" this lady is Astarte, a beautiful goddess in mythology that deals with matters of the heart. While she is mentioned earlier in the poem, she has no actual mention in this excerpt. "She has seen that the tears are not dry on/These cheeks, where the worm never dies," says that Love,(and its goddess, Astarte) even knows that Poe has not stopped grieving for his dead love. Soon after he writes of the "Lethean peace" of the skies. This is an allusion to the River Lethe in Greek mythology, which was a river in Hades that allowed the dead to forget. Perhaps Poe needed a similar peace to forget the pain in his own life. Much of his work revolves around the death of a beloved woman. Though differently named, probably these lost loves are all one woman--Edgar Allan Poe's dead child bride Virginia Clemm. The title character "Ulalume," is most likely no exception, directly correlating with the universal "love and death" theme.
"Come up, in despite of the Lion,/To shine on us with her bright eyes--/Come up through the lair of the Lion,/With love in her luminous eyes," is a passage that several times refers to a "Lion;" this is an allusion to the lion sign of the Zodiac and constellation, 'Leo.' Other fictitious character references in the piece include those of Sibyl and Psyche, the latter whose curiosity caused her lover, Cupid, to flee from her forever, and who supposedly mourns her respective lost love for all eternity. I find it ironic that Poe chose to use the goddess Psyche in this piece as the one he has to convince to do his bidding. Psyche is the Greek word for "soul," which almost leads the reader to wonder if Poe is using both meanings of the word in this poem, convincing not a mythical woman, but himself.