The poem is told from Roland's perspective, and is both grim and dream-like, with sudden unexplained shifts in scene and a deeply portentous aura surrounding almost everything the narrator sees.
This poem provides examples of:
- Ambiguous Ending: Childe Roland apparently reaches the Dark Tower at the end of the poem. But what happens to him next is left entirely up to the reader's imagination. Roland appears to expect his own demise, though.
- Evil Cripple: The poem starts with Childe Roland getting directions from a crippled man whom he fully expects to betray him.
- Tall Poppy Syndrome: One scene Roland passes through is personified thus, with the weeds themselves demanding that none of them be raised above the others.If there pushed any ragged thistle-stalk
Above its mates, the head was chopped; the bents
Were jealous else.
- Title Drop: The last line of the poem.Dauntless the slug-horn to my lips I set,
And blew. "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower came."