Poetry Response #7

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?

Date of reading: October 30th
Main theme: loss, and the nature of reality
My response: 
I was really surprised by this poem because it seems to incorporate many complex elements into a relatively short piece of work. The author touches on the feelings of hurt and loss that he experienced from losing his wife, but there are also some metaphysical questions brought up, whether he meant to or not, and a lot of symbolism. However I think that this is a great way to express the poem because he no doubt felt a lot of anguish and turmoil after the passing away of his wife – and all his emotions were confused and mixed up.
The biggest hook for me in this poem was the ‘dream within a dream” part – what did he mean? A dream is something that is not real, and that we cannot control – a dream within that would be an even deeper level of non-real and uncontrollable. By saying that perhaps life is all just a dream within a dream, it kind of calls into question the nature of reality – is anything real? Do we have any control of our fate? How can we know?
But maybe his interpretation of that was something simpler, just that he feels like he can’t control his life very much, just like in a dream. The dream within that dream may be more specific, individual aspects of life – he uses the example of a tide, and says he can’t even stop a few grains of sand by being washed away by the “pitiless wave”. This is also symbolic of the passing of his wife – he couldn’t stop her from being “washed away” by death. Perhaps he wishes that life could be just a dream, because then it would mean that the loss of his wife isn’t real  – “Is it therefore the less gone?”
He may have used words such as “golden” and “grains of sand” to be symbolic of other things too – the great quality of a relationship, or the passing of time in a sand hour-glass – but I only found this out by reading other reviews online. To me, the feelings that really stand out are his deep missing of his wife – he wishes so desperately that she is back, he even accepts her beliefs that he thought were wrong before (“And, in parting from you now, / Thus much let me avow– / You are not wrong, who deem / That my days have been a dream”) – he now misses her so much, he wants back even the stuff he disagreed with in the relationship before, like different viewpoints.
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