"Fairy-Land" begins by describing a fantastical, surreal world of "huge moons" that "wax and wane," "shadowy floods," and "cloudy-looking woods." The moons extinguish the star-light "with the breath from their pale faces," and one of the moons comes down from the sky and drapes itself "over hamlets, over halls . . . Over every drowsy thing."
When this moon comes down to the earth and buries everything in its "labyrinth of light," all the citizens of the land sleep deeply, and when they awake, they use the moon as "a tent." This moon then shatters into "a shower" of "butterflies," which fly up to the sky before coming back down again.
This poem is surreal and bizarre, much like a Salvador Dali painting. The moon which descends to the land and covers everything with a "labyrinth of light" is perhaps symbolic of the imagination, which can be all-consuming and intoxicating. This poem was first published in 1829, during the Romantic era. During this period, Romantic poets such as Wordsworth, Keats and Shelley wrote poetry to celebrate the power of the human imagination. Poe was likely influenced by this aspect of Romanticism when he wrote "Fairy-land."
When the poem was first published in an issue of The Yankee and Boston Gazette, the editor described Poe's poem as "though nonsense, rather exquisite nonsense." In this sense, the poem might be compared to Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, published about thirty years later.