The focus on individuals is so entrenched, however, that even those who think they’re taking social factors into account usually aren’t. This is as true of Murray’s critics as it is of Murray himself. Perhaps Murray’s greatest single mistake is to misinterpret the failure of federal antipoverty programs. He assumes that federal programs actually target the social causes of poverty, which means that if they don’t work, social causes must not be the issue. But he’s simply got it wrong. Welfare and other antipoverty programs are ‘social’ only in the sense that they’re organized around the idea that social systems like government have a responsibility to do something about poverty. But antipoverty programs are not organized around a sociological understanding of how systems produce poverty in the first place. As a result, they focus almost entirely on changing individuals and not systems, and use the resources of government and other systems to make it happen.
Starting from the third stanza, the questions of whether science has vanquished mythology can either be read as rhetoric or confusion. If it is rhetoric, then the answer to each of the “Hast thou” questions is a definite “yes,” and Poe is concluding the poem by noting a few of the things which science has shown not to be real. This means that, to Poe, dreams, too, have been disturbed by science, since he feels like he is constrained by science’s notion of reality, which is less vivid to him than the creatures from another “old time.” However, it could be the case that he is asking these questions again out of confusion. He is unsure whether or not science conflicts with these old mythological notions. In a sense, while there is no Diana on the moon empirically, she is still where she always has been: able to be called upon for poetry. So, Poe may still have his dream “beneath the tamarind tree,” and not have it wrest from him by science.