The speaker dreams a dream in which she is a “maiden Queen” watched over by an angel. She weeps all the time, and the angel takes pity and wipes away her tears. However, even when she is happy at heart, the maiden Queen continues to weep in an attempt to evoke pity from the angel. Instead, the angel sees no happiness in his charge and so departs.
This four-stanza poem consists entirely of quatrains, each a pair of rhyming couplets. The constant rhyming gives the poem a quick rhythm, lending to the poem a tone of almost childlike urgency in relating the speaker's dream. The fast pace also accentuates the theme of time's inexorable passage that, while covering many years, seems fleeting to the participants.
The maiden matures and arms herself “With ten thousand shields and spears.” These weapons are a metaphor for her experience and growing cynicism. When the angel once again returns to offer her solace, he is rebuffed because it is too late. She has grown old and no longer seeks his pity as she did when in her youth.