A Dream within a Dream: A Critical Analysis

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16 September 2021

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A Dream inside a Dream, by Edgar Allen Poe, is a poem with its central themes being sorrow, loss, confusion and frustration. The poem is split into two stanzas, each with a special setting however both closely interconnected. It begins with the narrator kissing his lover upon their “parting” (line 2). He ponders whether or not every little thing in life is nothing however “a dream within a dream” (line 11). The second stanza depicts the narrator standing on a sea-shore while he weeps. He struggles to hold the “grains of golden sand” (line 15) inside his palm, but alas, is unable to.

The tighter he tries to know, the extra they slip away. The poet, by way of this work of his, has portrayed his most profound emotions and thoughts. “The surf-tormented shore” (line 13) symbolizes the poet’s fraught state of mind. His mind is the shore that’s “tormented” with many thoughts (surf). The grains of sand can be taken to symbolize the people and issues that he loves in life.

He communicates his sense of anguish at not being ready to maintain on to them, and at the thought that ultimately the “pitiless wave” (perhaps death) will carry them away.

The poet twice states that he’s weeping and he cries out to God. This additional highlights his agonized mental and emotional state. The lines “all that we see or seem Is but a dream within a dream” are repeated twice; once as a question and the second time as an announcement, probably with a sense of hope that every one the losses suffered by him are nothing but mere goals from which he’ll wake.

The language and strong use of symbolism by the poet endow the poem with deeper that means.

The reader can easily relate to it as a outcome of each certainly one of us undergoes this sense of agony on the loss of a liked one. We may feel that issues are slipping away from our palms however we stay helpless. The poet has captured this side of human existence very beautifully. Although there are portions of the poem that are imprecise as one can’t be sure what the poet is attempting to convey, the overall effect of the poem on the reader is fascinating. ? Works Cited Poe, Edgar A. “A Dream inside a Dream”. Poetry X. 29 Nov 2004. 14 July 2010 <

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