Literature

‘A Dream within a Dream’: A Poem by Edgar Allan Poe

How can we separate reality from illusion? What if, to quote from Edgar Allan Poe, ‘All that we see or seem / Is but a dream within a dream’? ‘A Dream within a Dream’ muses on the fragility and fleetingness of everything, and asks whether anything we do has any lasting or real effect. ‘A Dream within a Dream’ by Edgar Allan Poe (1809-49) is one of Poe’s best-known poems.

‘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?

If you enjoyed ‘A Dream within a Dream’, you might also enjoy Poe’s ‘The Raven’.

4 Comments

  1. Pingback: 10 of the Best Poems about Dreams and Dreaming | Interesting Literature

  2. Beautiful! I love Edger Allan Poe. His book, the Telltale Heart was perfectly terrifying to me as a kid.