A Dream Within A Dream Explication

By Brian Gallardo

A Dream Within A Dream By Edgar Allan Poe


Take this kiss upon the brow!

And, in parting from you now,

Thus much let me avow —

You are not wrong, who deem

That my days have been a dream;

Yet if hope has flown away

In a night, or in a day,

In a vision, or in none,

Is it therefore the less gone?

All that we see or seem

Is but a dream within a dream.


I stand amid the roar

Of a surf-tormented shore,

And I hold within my hand

Grains of the golden sand —

How few! yet how they creep

Through 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 save

One from the pitiless wave?

Is all that we see or seem

But a dream within a dream?

Poem Explicated

Literal

The poem begins with the speaker telling his loved one to accept a kiss from him. He kisses her and tells her she is not wrong for saying all his life has been but a dream. He questions when his hope had left and ends the stanza saying that his life is a dream within a dream.

In the second stanza, the speaker's standing on a beach, watching golden grains of sand slip through his fingers. He then questions why he could not grip on to the sand tighter.at the end of the poem the speaker can not tell if everything he sees is just a dream within a dream.

Situation

The poem is a narrative in which the speaker has to leave. He confesses to his loved one, presumably his wife, that his life is nothing but a dream within a dream. He wishes that he could have a tighter grip on the golden sand of the beach. He concludes with restating that his life is but a dream within a dream.

Structure

The poem is written in a traditional style. The same rhyme scheme is used in both stanzas, so there is not much development in terms of rhythm. Both stanzas however end with the same idea that the speaker is confessing that his life is but a dream within a dream. The sentences are relatively simple despite being in old English. Again, the poem is written in a traditional form so it only has end-stopped lines. The simplicity allows for more understanding.

Language

The language of the poem is mainly formal without any complicated words. When reading aloud, the reader feels sympathy for the speaker because of his cries to god for help. The speaker cries to god and alluded him directly. There is personification saying that hope has flown away. He also gets mad because he could not save a "pitiless wave" . The speaker gives some imagery when he is at the beach. Mentioning the waves and golden sand. This gives the image of any typical beach.

Musical Devices

Both stanzas follow the same rhyme scheme. AABBCCCDD. This gives the poem a consistent flow or rhythm which helped with the simplicity. The reader does not have to try as hard to understand because the poem has an easy pattern to follow. There is nothing to extraordinary with the rhyme scheme or rhythm