Edgar Allan Poe's Dreams

how three different poems showed insight on a man's life

The Poems

A Dream Within A Dream

In this poem, Poe described how the death of his wife made him feel betrayed by time and life itself. Aspects of the poem, particularly in the second stanza emphasize his desperation proceeding the death of his wife and how he pleaded to God to be relieved.


A Dream

In this poem, Poe explained how the reality of life is painful than his past. He would rather dream, and avoid reality because of how the abrasive effects of reality have beaten and shaped him. This poem strongly conveys the ideology that life is tough and Poe eventually realizes that death is preferred to living without his love.


Dreams

In this poem, Poe shows how youth is life's peak. As life continues, tragic and traumatizing experiences develop and cause thoughts to become negative. Poe goes further to reiterate how young children are untainted by the pervasion of life itself.

Syntax

Enjambment

Enjambment is defined commonly as the continuation of a sentence beyond the end of a line. Poe has never been a "typical" and "template oriented" poet, and that definitely shined through in "A Dream Within A Dream", "A Dream", and "Dreams". I believe that Edgar Allan Poe used this syntactical technique to keep his poems interesting and make them feel alive. This represents the idea common in the three poems that inanimate things, such as love or dreams, is alive, in the same way that his poem is.


A Dream Within A Dream

In this poem, Poe used lots of enjambment. This syntactical technique helped to support the idea that the poem symbolizes that life cannot be controlled or contained. Poe says "I stand amid the roar/ Of a surf-tormented shore,/" (A Dream Within A Dream, Poe, 12-13). The fact that this portion is talking about the ocean, something that cannot be contained and relating it to life is powerful in itself. But, having the syntactical form to back it up, by leaving the end of the line without punctuation, strengthens Poe's poem. Additionally, when Poe says "O God! can I not grasp/ Them with a tighter clasp?", he is showing that like the sand, life cannot be grasped and controlled (A Dream Within A Dream, Poe, 19-20). The poem and life itself cannot be controlled because when something is alive, it has the power to execute its own will. Since life is a living thing in Poe's mind, he describes how it and the poem itself are uncontrolled.


A Dream

In this poem, Poe used lots of enjambment. This syntactical technique helped to support the idea that life continues until the end. Poe only used an end of sentence punctuation at the end of each stanza. This shows that, like life, its's never really done, until it's done. The poem also follows this idea. "I have dreamed of joy departed-" means that while joy from being in love has disappeared with his wife's death, Poe's life is still in continuation (A Dream, Poe, 2). There isn't punctuation until two lines down, at the end of the quatrain. At the very end of the poem, the idea that Poe is waiting to die is presented, "What could there be more purely bright/ In Truth's day-star?" (A Dream, Poe, 15-16). Since death is the end of life, there is end punctuation here, signifying how the end of the quatrain, end of the poem, and end of life, are all bound together.


Dreams

In this poem, Poe uses lots of enjambment. This syntactical technique helped to support the idea that life has defining points the conclude, then begin a new phase or idea. Punctuation works in a similar fashion within this poem. Poe views childhood and youth as life's apex. When Poe says "young hope in his sunniest hour hath known.", he uses punctuation because youth is treasured and important to Poe, the way the end of a sentence is one of the most important parts (Dreams, Poe, 34). In the poem, Poe mentions youth again with favor. "A chaos of deep passion, from...birth." signifies that from the time of birth, people are passionate (Dreams, Poe, 8). As age increases, passion for life decreases and the world becomes increasingly dull. Since birth is important to Poe, he uses punctuation when it is mentioned to force people to stop and think about it. Important aspects of life gain recognition, and Poe used enjambment to highlight the most important parts of his poem.

Language

Assonance

Assonance is known as repeating vowel sounds within literature. Poe frequents his poems with plenty of assonances to make them more make the reader feel warm when discussing a depressing topic. Poe often referenced this language technique when writing "A Dream Within A Dream", "A Dream", and "Dreams". This represents the idea common in the three poems that while they initially seem like peaceful topics, the poems truly have a deeper, more gothic meaning.


A Dream Within A Dream

In this poem, there is often rhyme with assonance. The poem is dark and the severity of it is masked with talk of oceans and sand but discusses how useless life is after losing a significant other. Poe used assonance to brighten the mood of the poem. For example, when he said, "Yet...hope has flown away/In a night, or in a day,", it at first sounds pleasant because of the fun feminine rhyme (A Dream Within A Dream, Poe, 6-7). It isn't until you closely examine the words that you realize that Poe has lost all hope and is depressed. This also occurs when Poe says, "And I hold within my hand/ Grains of the golden sand-/ How few! yet they creep/Through my fingers to the deep," (A Dream Within A Dream, Poe, 14-17). At first, it seems as if Poe is simply playing in the sand because the feminine rhyme keeps things upbeat. However, this section of the poem is about him losing all control over his life and falling deeper and deeper into depression. The use of assonance assisted Poe in preventing his poems from becoming too traumatizing.


A Dream

In this poem, all of the rhymings portray assonance. This poem describes Poe's suicidal thoughts and the mood is lightened by the use of an upbeat, springy, feminine rhyme. When Poe says, "I have dreamed of joy departed-/ But a waking dream of life and light/ Hath left me broken-hearted.", it at first seems as if Poe was recently heartbroken and is just upset by that (A Dream, Poe, 2-4). However, the meaning is much deeper. In reality, this is Poe wishing that he could be with the dead. The meaning is diluted by the use of feminine rhyme, which usually dulls the abrasiveness of comments. This is also shown when Poe says "What though that light, thro' storm and night,/ So trembled from afar-/ What could there be more purely bright/ In Truth's day-star?" (A Dream, Poe, 13-16). At first, it appears that Poe is saying that he has been enlightened by God. When intensely scrutinizing the text, it is discovered that this quatrain is actually revealing Poe's want to die and be with God and his wife. Poe used assonance to decrease the melancholia within his poem.


Dreams

In this poem, assonance is no stranger. The poem describes how as age increases, the quality of life decreases. To make the poem less despondent, Poe uses the cheerful feminine rhyme to brighten the mood. For example, the poem starts off with a happy mood because of the use of rhyme when Poe says, "my young life were a lasting dream!/ My spirit not awakening, till the beam" (Dreams, Poe, 1-2). The words themselves, paired with the rhyme, presents a pleasant introduction to the poem for the reader. The text also presents a fallacy of positivity when Poe says, "From mine own home, with beings that have been/ Of mine own thought- what more could I have seen?" (Dreams, Poe, 17-18). At first, the reader only sees that Poe's thoughts were untainted by the world as a young one. However, after reviewing the lines again, it is clear that Poe's depression may have begun when he realized that he, unlike others, were isolated throughout his childhood. In this poem, Poe used assonance to make the poem seem pleasant. However, after rereading and analyzing it, it is made clear that the idea that Poe's three poems were positive is undoubtedly a fallacy.

Night to day time lapse

Symbolism

Symbolism is a common literary technique and is known as using symbols to represent ideas or qualities. Poe flourished in the use of this technique. His poems, "A Dream Within A Dream", "A Dream", and "Dreams" are filled to the brim with symbolism. Poe used symbolism to ensure that rather than reading or hearing his poems, they also felt what he felt. This technique also represents the idea that nothing is concrete.


A Dream Within A Dream

This poem had strong symbols that were very effective in instilling feeling within readers. When Poe says, "I stand amid the roar/Of a surf-tormented shore,", he isn't actually standing on a beach (A Dream Within A Dream, Poe, 12-13). This is a symbol for Poe's world falling apart, just like the waves do. In the way that the waves were never stagnant, life is never stagnant and is always modifying and changing. This is also shown when Poe says "Yet if hope has flown away/In a night, or in a day,/", Poe isn't describing hope for anything in the future, he is using hope to symbolize the love between him and his wife before her death (A Dream Within A Dream, Poe, 6-7). He uses the second line in the phrase because life isn't constant, in a night, or in a day, your entire world can fall apart, the way his did. In his poem, Poe used symbolism to represent how life is constantly in motion and whether we like it or not, there's nothing anyone can do to stop it.


A Dream

In this poem, there are many aspects throughout each of the four quatrains that embody Poe's symbolism. When Poe says, "through that light, thro' storm and night,", he isn't actually describing visible storms and nighttime (A Dream, Poe, 13-14). This is a symbol for the never ending rise and fall of life. The storms and darkness are common symbols for hardships in life. Poe is saying that life has often led him down a difficult road. When Poe speaks of a "waking dream of life and light [leaving him] broken-hearted.", he isn't speaking of a literal dream of being under the sun upsetting him (A Dream, Poe, 3-4). Instead, Poe is describing how his dreams are more pleasant than his reality, something that always seems to be changing for the worse. Since his dreams, whether at night or just thoughts in his brain, are consistently pleasant, Poe would rather live in pleasant consistency than in the abrasive, constantly changing world. In this selection, Edgar Allan Poe used lots of symbolism to emphasize the inconsistent hardships within his life.


Dreams

In this poem, symbolism is used very often to demonize Poe's adult life. When Poe says, "'twas the chilly wind/Came o'er me in the night", he is describing how realizing that life changes for the worst impacted his life (Dream, Poe, 21-22). The chilly wind is equivalent to difficulties in life and hardships. Basically, one day, Poe had a terrible experience that jolted him into the harsh reality that all adults dwell in. He also uses symbolism to vilify adulthood when he says "'Twere better than [a] cold reality", (Dreams, Poe, 5). He uses cold reality as a symbol for a difficult or complicated life. Since reality cannot be a temperature, this shows that Poe has lived a harsh life and is hardened and more desolate because of it. Throughout this poem, Poe denotes adulthood and praises childhood. His use of symbolism forces the reader to feel his dejection from life and allows us to understand how the consistent downfall of events within his life has worked to harden Poe.

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Theme

What Edgar Allan Poe was trying to say

The overall theme within Poe's three poems, "A Dream Within A Dream", "A Dream", and "Dreams" was that as we age, life becomes increasingly difficult. Poe used enjambment to support the fact that like poems, love and dreams are alive. When he says, "I stand amid the roar/ Of a surf-tormented shore,/" Poe is showing how the ocean is alive, just like love and dreams (A Dream Within A Dream, Poe, 12-13). He reemphasizes this idea by having a poem that flows and is alive. This produces the idea that love and dreams change with time, like life. He also used assonance to support his overall theme. Poe says, "What though that light, thro' storm and night,/ So trembled from afar-/ What could there be more purely bright/ In Truth's day-star?" (A Dream, Poe, 13-16). The presence of assonance helps to dilute the severity of this quote. He is saying that as time has gone on and as he has aged, he has enjoyed life less and less. Lastly, Edgar Allan Poe uses symbolism to help emphasize the idea that like his poems, life is never concrete. He says, "'twas the chilly wind/Came o'er me in the night", he is describing how realizing that life changes for the worst impacted his life (Dream, Poe, 21-22). The chilly wind is equivalent to difficulties in life and hardships that are acquired with age. Throughout all of his poems, childhood is only viewed in a positive light because children haven't yet been tainted by the world and its struggles. By using enjambment, assonance, and symbolism, Poe stressed his views that as life goes on, it becomes more difficult.