the figures have a nightmarish quality which is developed through simple but evocative visual imagery they ‘hang over you’ and stand ‘shoulder to shoulder’ which makes them threatening in number and intimidating in stance the sibilance within the last line augments the tenor of disquiet created by the poet’s reference to these nameless and ‘faceless’ men no reference is made to women which also increases the veiled threat implied by shadowy figures. one possible interpretation of this might be that male ancestors have greater impact on his cultural and social identity
the darkness becomes tinged with urgency as his sleep is broken by whispered secrets. nothing is distinct or clear, developing an atmosphere of uneasiness. it is a scene we can identify with, those disturbing dreams and nightmares that can come to us all in the middle of the night reference is made to the ever-open eyes of these figures. we wonder what are they looking at or for, and wether their appearance is a negative or positive omen. it also leads us to wonder whether their visions are insightful or apocalyptic
the ring they form around the poet is both encircling and yet directional, their pointing fingers and footprints leading elsewhere to undetermined places. the term ‘ring’ generates a certain feeling of alarm, as if the sleeping figure is being entrapped by these figures from the past directions are unclear, mirroring the indistinct quality of dreams. it also raises the level of uncertainty and apprehension felt by the dreamer
these nocturnal visitors are given a natural backdrop, simply described as a mountain, river, plains, grasses and sand simple, sensory imagery describes the ‘sound of a river’ and a ‘moonlit plain’ giving some semblance of place but not enough to get any real bearings or location it is still a dream-liek landscape; ill-defined but evocative and disquitening
we ponder what these speechless,...
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