As the poem opens we are introduced to a man who is burdened with the demanding and tedious job of cutting rice. As we move into the poem we find that this man, is a slave, who has dreams and aspirations of his own. His mind spirals into imaginings about his family and his kingdom. He is so entranced by his imagination that he doesn't even recognize death when she sweeps him into her treacherous embrace.
At the beginning we find the slave alongside scattered rice. His tool, a sickle is in his hand, and the effect of his draining work on his physical countenance. His hair is tousled and his chest uncovered. Fatigue takes it toll and we find that he falls asleep. In the murky gloom of sleep he find his dream. .
This is acts as a foreword to the poem, as here we are made familiar with the slave, his work as well the main constituent of the poem, his dream. .
As we move ahead in the poem we find ourselves wading through the infinite sea of his dreams. The grand Niger surges forward making it's path underneath the palm tree on the plain. He envisages himself to be a king. An influential king who marches through his land and is respected by one and all. The slave so absorbed in his dream, hears the "tinkling" caravans as they make their way down the mountain road. .
In this stanza, the poet brings us one step closer to the slave and his dream. We discover that the slave has intricate dreams of a brighter life for himself. A life quite contrary to the one he is living. One where he won't be the demanded but the demander. .
Soon the focus of the slave's dream shifts to his family. His fine-looking queen with their cheery children penetrates into his mind's eye. While he dotes on them, his love is not unrequited. He sees his family expressing their love with kisses on his cheek and clutching his hand. Although overcome with joy, the slave is aware of the yawning chasm between this fantasy and his brutal reality, as a tear escapes the security of his eyes and falls onto the sand.