"A Dream Within a Dream"paraphrased

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can anyone give me a paraphrased version of a dream within a dream? Im having trouble putting it into my own words, i don't really understand what it means.

-- Anonymous, October 26, 2001


The first shorter version of this poem "To Annie" starts with the verse "All that we see or seem". This makes it a simple reflection on the flight of time, where all precious things and moments fall back into the sea, the roaring chaos of "the surf-tormented shore" which is the symbol of the borderland between life and death, this world and the next.(Annabel Lee by the sea, etc.). the extra verse, the middle triple rhyme "Through my fingers to the deep" shows his sense of loss and powerlessness is central to the poem.

Then comes the revision or reuse of the poem! Now there are two stanzas. The exact middle of the second stanza "While I weep- while I weep" emphasizing grief, possibly at the parting mentioned in the first stanza. So what exactly is going on in the first stanza which now makes the poem an address to someone, possibly a response to a comment, an argument, a final parting, perhaps from his wife to be soon buried? Without getting into Poe's courtships after his wife's death you can see that this complaint lament is fairly simple no matter to whom the sentiment is addressed. When it's gone it's gone no matter what or how much it was at the moment and that in parting from either a real person or his dead wife his cup is swiftly empty. The phrase " a dream within a dream" MAY refer to the Hindu inspired transcendentalism of Emerson and company but with Poe's own emphasis on melancholy and dissolution of the universe ratyher than its renewal. His book "Eureka" is more hopeful but the emphasis is on the awful sense of total, spiraling loss that unfortunately made up too much of his personal life experience. Poe here is more the rebel, the questioner, refusing philosophical consolations(Annabel Lee)- like Job. Instead of consolation it begins with a theme and ends with the theme turned into a despairing question.

One further reflection on what dreams meant to Poe. HERE it becomes irrelevant whether dreamland is nearly a middle land between this life and the next and whether some consolation can be found in reaching out to the beacons of heaven. Even dreams, eventually the dreamer, pass into the sea.(Just my observations, I am no ultimate authority here.)

For the two variants go to www.eapoe.org. Also possibly some articles plus all the other poems and tales mentioning dreams.

-- Anonymous, October 26, 2001

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