20 pages 40 minutes read

Edgar Allan Poe

A Dream Within a Dream

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 1849

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Poem Analysis

Analysis: “A Dream Within a Dream”

“A Dream Within a Dream” is a Romantic lyric poem that asks the reader to consider a melancholy philosophical question about the nature of love and reality itself: what is real and what is a dream?

As the poem opens, the poem’s speaker is leaving the person the poem addresses. The speaker offers this person a gentle “kiss upon the brow!” (Line 1). A kiss upon the forehead like this symbolizes friendship and affection. However, using an exclamation mark to create the end line implies that the speaker has more passion for the person they are kissing than friendship.

The speaker and the poem’s addressee seem to be at the end of a meaningful conversation they have been having back and forth for some time. It appears that the speaker is trying to convince the “you” in the poem of something by swearing: “Thus much let me avow—” (Line 3) which echoes the language of a marital promise.

However, the second person in the conversation does not take this proposal seriously. The poem’s addressee suggests to the speaker that he spends too much of his life dreaming and not grounded in material reality: “You are not wrong, who deem / That my days have been a dream;” (Lines 3-4).