20 pages 40 minutes read

Edgar Allan Poe

A Dream Within a Dream

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 1849

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Literary Devices

Form & Meter

“A Dream Within a Dream” is a short lyric poem told in the first person by a speaker. The poem is divided into two stanzas. The first stanza has 11 lines, and the second has 13 lines. The rhyme scheme of the poem is as follows:


The meter of the poem shifts and changes constantly, like a dream. For the most part, it’s in iambic trimeter. This is a line of three metrical feet. An iamb is a foot with an unstressed then stressed beat. Some lines contain anapests—or feet with three beats, two unstressed and one stressed—at the beginning of the line. The first line starts with an anapest: “Take this kiss upon thy brow” (Line 1). The use of the anapests at the start of some lines creates a monotonous, hypnotic effect broken by the intermittent lines of pure iambs. Poe uses iambic tetrameter (a line with four feet) in line 11 just before he slips into the dream in the second stanza. Iambic tetrameter is usually used for love poems, so this line is jarring and helps represent the broken promise of love.