Poe, ''Sonnet: To Science'' (1829)
SCIENCE! true daughter of Old Time thou art!
Who alterest all things with thy peering eyes.
Why preyest thou thus upon the poet's heart,
Vulture, whose wings are dull realities?
How should he love thee? or how deem thee wise,
Who wouldst not leave him in his wandering
To seek for treasure in the jewelled skies,
Albeit he soared with an undaunted wing?
Hast thou not dragged Diana from her car?
And driven the Hamadryad from the wood
To seek a shelter in some happier star?
Hast thou not torn the Naiad from her flood,
The Elfin from the green grass, and from me
The summer dream beneath the tamarind tree?
Edgar Allen Poe
- Interpretaion from the Medical Humanities database
- Some annotations from a student project at the U.S. Naval Academy
- Edgar Allan Poe, from The Literature Network
The tamarind is a huge tropical tree, suggesting an exotic location for a dream.
According to a horticulture website at Purde, "Few plants will survive beneath a tamarind tree and there is a superstition that it is harmful to sleep or to tie a horse beneath one, probably because of the corrosive effect that fallen leaves have on fabrics in damp weather. Some African tribes venerate the tamarind tree as sacred. To certain Burmese, the tree represents the dwelling-place of the rain god and some hold the belief that the tree raises the temperature in its immediate vicinity."
Role-playing gamers may recognize the Naiad (a water spirit). The shorter "Elf" is more common than "Elfin," (here represented as a grass sprit, which is not exactly how J.R.R. Tolkien or the Keebler cookie people represent them) and "Dryad" is more recognizable than "Hamadryad" (a woodland spirit).