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Dream Within a Dream

Edgar Allan Poe is one of the major American poets who has written many famous poems throughout his lifetime. ‘A Dream Within a Dream’ a very known and issued poem that gains critical attention.

The poem was published in 1849 in ‘The Flag of Our Union’. The poem has twenty-four lines and is divided into two stanzas. The title of the poem tells that maybe the poet would be talking about his dream that will be within a dream.


Love is the center of the poem because, in the dream, the poet wants to get his beloved. When he kisses his beloved, he achieves his dream within a dream. So, the dream is another theme of the poem that gets highlighted.

A grand celebration for getting the love back in life can be seen by the poet’s explanation. There are many images that speak on his feelings and that becomes a major theme.


In the first line, he utters that to take his kiss upon the brow. So this is an image where the poet wants to kiss someone who seems like his beloved.

The kiss is parting her now maybe for that kiss. Now, he is saying to let him avow. By this line, he is trying to explain the feelings.

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

Now he is saying that she is not wrong because she thinks that it was the dream of the poet. So, it is a love that has been explored and it was his dream.

Then he is saying that may the hope will be flown in a day or in a night, and may in a vision or in nothing. The poet is describing his feelings for having his beloved to close to him. So this is a dream to the poet and he says, there is nothing in this world to be gone.

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

Now he is uttering what he seems and seems to be nothing but a poet’s dream that is in a dream. A question comes here that why is this a dream within a dream?

The Lyrics of Dream Within a Dream

Maybe in the dream poet finds his beloved. When he finds her he is having another dream of kissing her. That is why this a dream within a dream.

The second stanza begins with another image of the poet. Here, he says he stays at the amid of the roar within the tormented surf of shore.

Here, the poet describes the surf as tormented. The poet is holding golden grains from the holy sands. Maybe the poet tries to say that in the tormenting shore he is standing by holding golden grains of sands.

“How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep — while I weep!”

Here, Poe is uttering how few they are and how much they creep the poet. The fingers of the poet are too deep and when he weeps they gets deeper.

Image on Dream Within a Dream

So with love also comes a sadness that in the poet’s mind. Poet is further asking God that can he not grasp with the tighter clasp. So he wants to close his fingers tight. Maybe it is the hand of his beloved too.

“O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?”

Thus the poet asking God that can not save the pitiless wave. All that he seems and seems to be would be a dream within a dream. He is a lover who loves his beloved very much.


Dream Within a Dream Meaning

When the poem first started, the poet says that he kissed his beloved and loves her very much and then he further says that this was a dream.

He gets his beloved and when he is able to kiss her on her forehead it becomes a ‘dream within a dream’. The deep romanticized love can be seen in the character of Edgar Allan Poe.

Imagination of Poe

Then also goes to the natural description where he is standing by holding golden grains and asking God to get his love. Langston Hughes says,

“Hold fast to dreams,
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird,
That cannot fly.”

Here, Langston Hughes is comparing life to broken-winged blood that can not fly. According to Poe a dream is that we want to get for the time being. So, this poem is very relevant and written in expressive manners.

Literary Devices

The poem is divided into two stanzas, the first stanza consists of eleven lines and the second stanza has thirteen lines. The rhyming pattern of the poem is ‘aaabbccddee’. The poem fills with various types of poetic uses.

First comes imageries that open images in front of the poems like,

“Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand —”

After that comes Anaphora that means the repetition of the same words at the beginning of two lines one after another like,

“In a night, or in a day,

In a vision, or in none,”

Consonantal sounds also can be found in the lines like,

“All that we see of seems,”

Alliteration is another rhetorical device that means the repetition of the same vowel sounds in a line one after another, such as,


And Enjambment is a very important poetic use that can be seen many times,

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

These are all relevant poetic devices that make the poem more bright.

Questions and Answers

What does the phrase a dream within a dream mean?

It means a dream is having another dream for itself.

What is the main theme of a dream within a dream?

Isolation, compassion for getting love, reality are the major themes.

What genre is a dream within a dream?

The poem belongs to the genre of dark romanticism.

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