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A Dream Within a Dream - Poe

In: English and Literature

Submitted By ReeLit
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Edgar Allen 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?

The poem is 24 lines, divided into two stanzas. The poem questions the way one can distinguish between reality and fantasy, asking, "Is all that we see or seem but a dream within a dream?" ( wiki)
Although the two stanzas are not identical in length, their similar use of an iambic rhythm and of couplets and triplets in their end rhyme scheme creates a pattern that matches the parallel of their ideas. In particular, the refrain (repeated) lines "All that we see or seem/Is but a dream within a dream" unite the passages in the poem's conclusion of futility and regret at the movement of time. Poe draws attention to "all that we see or seem" with alliteration, and we can view this phrase as the combination of two aspects of reality, where "all that we see" is the external and "all that we seem" is the internal element. By asserting that both sides are the also alliterative phrase "a dream within a dream," Poe suggests that neither is more real than a dream.

"A Dream Within a Dream" deals most specifically with the troubling idea that reality is impermanent and nothing more than a dream, as the narrator first parts from his lover and then struggles with his inability to grasp the…...

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