Poe's Poetry

By Ben Johnson

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Poe uses symbolism in all of the poems usefully. In "A Dream Within A Dream" he uses "Grains of the golden sand How few! yet how they creep through my fingers to the deep"(line 15-17) as him losing reality and "O God! can I not save

One from the pitiless wave?"(lines 21-22). The pitiless wave is an illusion, this means that he is losing reality to an illusion. In "A Dream"Poe uses "I have dreamed of joy departed— but a waking dream of life and light Hath left me broken hearted"(lines 2-4) This waking dream of life and light is his return to reality and it leaves him in sorrow. "That holy dream-—that holy dream, While all the world were chiding, Hath cheered me as a lovely beam a lonely spirit guiding." (lines 9-12) He is saying that the only thing that keeps him going is this dream. In Poe's "Dreams" he says "Oh! that my young life were a lasting dream!My spirit not awak’ning, till the beam Of an Eternity should bring the morrow." (lines 1-3) this shows he wishes he could stay in a dream and spend a "eternity" in it. "For I have revell'd, when the sun was bright I' the summer sky, in dreams of living light"(lines 13-14) He is saying that he would think if heaven was real when his life was good. Poe uses this symbolism to relay a message to the reader through a story in the poem.


Edgar Allan Poe used assonance in many of his poems. In "A Dream Within A Dream" he says "Thus much let me avow"(line 3) and he also uses it when he says "All that we see or seem"(line 10). In "A Dream" he uses "To him whose eyes are cast"(line 6) and also " Hath cheered me as a lovely beam"(line 11). Poe uses this masterfully in "Dreams" an example is "'Twere better than the cold reality"(line 5) another is "I have been happy, tho' in a dream"(line 27). Poe's purpose for assonance is to make the poem more "musical" or to enhance the reader's pleasure when they are reading it.
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Syntactical: End-stopped time

End-stopped time is when there is a natural pause,but it is marked by a punctuation. It is shown in " A Dream Within A Dream" when "Take this kiss upon the brow! And, in parting from you now, Thus much let me avow —" (Lines 1-3) the pause comes from the dash because he is talking about something and then pauses to perform an action. An example in "A Dream" is "In visions of the dark night I have dreamed of joy departed—-But a waking dream of life and light Hath left me broken-hearted."(lines 1-4) this is end-stopped time because the dash indicates he is interrupted by "a waking dream of life and light". In "Dreams" he uses it by saying "I have been happy — and I love the theme: Dreams! in their vivid colouring of life"(lines 28-29) in this excerpt the pause comes from the colon because he is pausing to put emphasis on "Dreams!". Poe uses End-stopped time to give the poem a flow that makes it easier to read.

Thematic Statement

Their is a similarity in these poems in the fact that they all talk about dreams, but Edgar Allan Poe is trying to convey that dreams and reality aren't very different and that our reality is closer to a dream because of our preconceptions and illusions our mind plays on us. In " A Dream Within A Dream" he says "Is all that we see or seem But a dream within a dream?"(Line 23-24) he is basically saying how are we supposed to know if we are in a dream or reality. In "A Dream" he says "Ah! what is not a dream by day To him whose eyes are cast On things around him with a ray Turned back upon the past?"(line 5-8) this means that a person who lives with so many preconceptions about life may as well be living a dream in the day. "Dreams" shows us that his life felt like a dream in this excerpt- "Oh! that my young life were a lasting dream!" (line 1). In all of his poems he compared reality to a dream and never distinguished between the two. The main theme of these poems is the similarity between dreams and reality