A Dream Within A Dream

by Edgar Allan Poe

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"All That We See Or Seem Is But A Dream Within A Dream"

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Last Updated on June 25, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 169

Context: The poet parts from a lover and feels that life is a hopeless dream. Standing on "a surf-tormented shore," he holds "Grains of the golden sand" in his hand. The sand may stand for Time, reality, or the opportunities of life. Weeping, the poet watches the grains "creep/ Through my fingers to the deep." "O God!" he cries, "can I not grasp/ Them with a tighter clasp?/ O God! can I not save/ One from the pitiless wave?" But his wish is hopeless. He cannot capture the moment or recall the past. His love and his hope are merely part of a dream:

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.

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