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A Dream Within A Dream

Edgar Allan Poe

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Added by: Banana
I think that the first stanza is about how someone he cares for and knows has died. And I think that the second stanza is about how he's trying to deal and cope with it and let them go. And after every stanza he is sooo confused with his emotions that he wonders if its a dream within a dream. Well that's jsut what I think but it could easily be wrong so thats about it
Added by: The Chimera
I do not agree with your analysis. When I read the first half of this poem, I get the feeling he is talking to somone he was close to. Maybe a girl he was courting. And I think she refused to be with Poe because he lives his life as a dream. "You are not wrong who deem, that my days have been a dream."

The second half I get the feeling he was telling of how he misses her. The grains of golden sand are other people who keep becoming so important to him, and then leaving. The shore is his life. And in loosing this girl, another has slipped through his fingers.

Just what I always thought the poem meant.
Added by: hurumi
hmm.. i thought the second stanza meant the days of his life are slipping too fast like grains of sand. I think it's time more than people, since sand is usually referred to as time(like the hour glass, etc.) and time is gold since it's so valuable, and how people refer to the 'golden' age.

Anyway, "Can I not graps them in a tighter clasp?" I think he meant, no matter how hard he tries to hold on the sand, they'll still slip through his fingers.
Added by: Ashes
I have a different opinion. I think that Poe was the one who was leaving this girl. The first stanza says "Take this kiss upon the brow! And, in parting FROM YOU now," (emphasis on the "from you now"). It seems to me that Poe believed that his life was nothing more than a meaningless dream, and treated the people in his life this way. He ends the first stanza with a confident and content "All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream". But his tone changes in the second stanza. He is frustrated as he struggles to grasp the sifting sand in his hand. I believe that some traumatic event occured in his life at this point in time to make him realize that he has waisted his life away. I think the sand could represent both time and people that he has pushed away in his life. He is weeping because he knows it is too late to get either of them back. The last lines in his poem are a question of his original belief that life is a pointless dream: "IS all that we see or seem but a dream within a dream?"
Added by: Mr. Nobody
I think that you are all too specific. Poe may just be questioning not only his existence, but the entire worlds as well. Perhaps Poe thinks that we are all part of a dream.

In the second stanza, him mentioning the grains of sand symbolizes, as one of you has said, the time ticking away before our time is up, each grain sybolizing a spirit lost in the struggle for truth. It also seems that Poe could be perhaps watching a loved one slip away while all he can do is hold onto his faith and hope, which, in the first stanza, he mentions is fleeting. That's my view.
Its Metaphysics...
Added by: Mitchell
Mr Nobody is correct. This poem starts out about a parting between him a loved one, but goes into a metaphysical questions about the fact he (and us all) are living in a dream....that our lives and our hopes as human beings is temporary and fleeting and we all...our lives and hope and dreams eventually fall into the "deep" which is the unknown and really death. Its about the sands of time, as well as the loved one leaving him, but more so its a reflection that Poe believes hsi loss is also his life and meaning in life and for all of us, something we all experience. Life is fleeting, and so it seams life sometimes has no meaning and seems as a dream. A "dream within a dream" conveys a double meaning that is quite profound and tells me that Poe meant to convery most the fact that we each have live life with hopes and dreams and timeless aspirations, but ultimately those exist inside a greater world that conveys a grande illusion, and the shore and sand and crying convey Poes realization of this double world and in a macabre way, he is showing us not just loss, but really death and disillusion with trying to see anyone and anything in his life as real. So hes saying, I guess, its sad, my life, but so what. Thats what my life and living in this world is....its about loss. And the ultimate loss we all feel in this poem is the universal loss of knowing we will lose ourselves in death. That death is the wavesa nd the deep, and the unknown. Brilliant how he sucks you in with this one....starts out so innocently with loss and hope and love, and ends with a very deep and profound metaphysical statement about life. I love it!
-Mitchell Stokely
not so fast
Added by: poeconesuer
that is the beauty of poetry. Carpe Diem, the poems are unlimited to interpretation.
Added by: Jim Coppage

It is significant that the kiss was on the brow. Given Poe’s obsession with the macabre, I am sure he was relating the kiss to one given to a departed loved one, but some kiss the departed on the lips, some on the cheek, and some on the brow. This is also true when kissing goodbye to someone dear whom we do not expect to meet again. If given in a broken relationship, the kiss is more likely to be on the brow, which is the least intimate of the three. It is likely that Poe intentionally drew a comparison between death of a loved one and loss of a loved one for other reasons.

Some love relationships are experienced with great joy and passion, but lack deep underlying commitment. Outsiders may see this and make comments such as “you are living a dream,” implying that the relationship will not last. Poe acknowledges this by stating

“You are not wrong who deem
That my days have been a dream”

Poe is obviously referring to joyous times from a relationship lost, one for which others did not show respect.

“All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.”

Poe goes on to point out that it does not make any difference whether his loss was real or not, that it was a meaningful loss either way. He extends the thought that life itself is no more real, cannot be saved, and once passed, is lost forever.

The second verse moves to a larger picture, one in which his tormented soul is torn by this perceived reality. He sees his life as a shore, and life’s experiences as waves, and those he loved as grains of sand. He probably lost love through both death and heartbreak, and each soul he loved was as grains of sand. He tried desperately to hold onto them. In his many writings, he often holds onto the dead as if trying to resurrect them in a macabre fashion, but they cannot be saved and they fall away despite his efforts. This is also probably an allegory to his attempts to hold on to failed relationships, which fade and become forgotten no matter how hard one tries to hold on to them. Like the grains of sand, they would slip away and become lost to him forever, until forgotten by all.

After stating as fact that all of life’s experiences are but a dream within a dream, in the end Poe laments and torments himself with this obsession and turns to God to ask if there could be more to life than this.

Poe was not a happy man, and may have experienced many frivolous relationships. His torment teaches us that while the experiences in life may indeed be mere dreams within a dream, we can become more fulfilled by them if we make deep, lasting, meaningful relationships that transcend reckless and joyous romances of the moment. Poe could have reduced his grief over the death or loss of loved ones by fostering a belief in the afterlife. After all, for those of faith, life means so much more than just a dream or dreams.

Added by: Anika
We had to watch a poem about Edgar Allan Poe in English Yesterday. It talked about his life and how the people he loved all passed away. His mother died when he was less than three, he was adopted by his parent's friends, then when he turned 15, the only motherly figure he had passed away too. Almost everyone he loved died from tuberculosis. He married a girl that died from it as well. So I think this poem represents his loss. So many people that he loved all died.
Added by: kio
I think you guys are too fixed on the idea that the speaker is saying goodbye to a lover. that is one way of looking at it, but he appears to speak generally when he says "you are not wrong who deam" rather than to a specific person. and the kiss upon the brow does not seem like something to be given to a lover when departing. hurumi said that the grains of sand were the days...i think they could be memories as well. this would make the ocean time or death. when he says "all we see or seem is but a dream", he means that our days and memories will slowly fade in time. when he ends by saying "in a dream", he means that our entire lives are a dream that will fade in death. he even questions, in the first stanza that, if our days are just an illusion, just a dream...are they less gone when we die? he ends by asking god if it really is all just a dream, in desperate hopes that our lives are not as meaningless as he has concluded.

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