Andrew has a keen interest in all aspects of poetry and writes extensively on the subject. His poems are published online and in print.

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Edgar Allan Poe And A Summary of A Dream Within A Dream

Edgar Allan Poe's short poem A Dream Within A Dream questions the nature of reality and human existence. Fundamental perceptions might not be what they seem to be. Is life nothing but a series of unreal events that the mind invents within the unreal environment created by God?

Time passes and there is little we can do to arrest it, keep hold of it. Human emotions, thoughts and consciousness cannot affect this notion of life as a series of subconsciously driven experiences.


A human dream within a divine dream?

Poe is saying that some of us could be accused of living life as in a dream, that is, with hardly a grip on reality, but nevertheless, some of those dreamers may be visionaries. Hope springs eternal, hope goes, no matter how we live.

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This simple two stanza poem has plenty of rhyme and a loose iambic rhythm. It neatly encapsulates in two scenes the idea that we as humans face an existential riddle: do we control all that we see and do in the world? Or do we succumb to the abstract, as in a dream not of our making?


A Dream Within A Dream

Take this kiss upon the brow!And, in parting from you now,Thus much let me avow —You are not wrong, who deemThat my days have been a dream;Yet if hope has flown awayIn a night, or in a day,In a vision, or in none,Is it therefore the less gone? All that we see or seemIs but a dream within a dream.I stand amid the roarOf a surf-tormented shore,And I hold within my handGrains of the golden sand —How few! yet how they creepThrough my fingers to the deep,While I weep — while I weep!O God! Can I not grasp Them with a tighter clasp?O God! can I not saveOne from the pitiless wave?Is all that we see or seemBut a dream within a dream?

Themes

The Nature of Dreams

Time

Reality

Losing a Loved One

Letting Go of The Past

Free Will

God

Creation

How We Deal With Real Experiences

Analysis of A Dream Within A Dream

A Dream Within A Dream has just 24 lines, split into two stanzas of 11 and 13 lines respectively.

The rhyme scheme is: aaabbccddbb/eeffggghhiibb.

Full rhyme tends to keep a tight control on each line, most end words being stressed due to the anapaestic rhythm (3 feet, the first two being unstressed, the last stressed) lightened only when enjambment occurs.