Meaning of the poem "A DREAM"~ ASAP!!! : LUSENET : The Work of Edgar Allan Poe : One Thread

I have to explain each line of this poem to me english class! and I need some help! So please answer this ASAP!!!!!!!!!!

-- Anonymous, October 21, 2002


To explain each line is an exercise of personal experience, I think (perhaps the essential message of these precise verses?), but you may begin with understanding of the whole. For this, go to the very sources of Poe's suggestions, a kind of synthesis between Byron's egotistic "I would I were a careless child" (1807) and Th. Moore's religious "This world is all a fleeting show" (1816, 1824), both available on line via "Google". This early poem of Poe (1827) already speaks of some lost Aidenn of Innocence, of immediate knowledge that disappears with years and experiences through reducing conscience of Truth instead of unifying fragmentary truths. Dreams, the way towards not-too-dazzling-and-thence-blinding-realities, the way to escape from sunny (= day-star ligthed) deceitful and dull things of every day's life... Is it helpful for you? Good luck. Yours sincerely, Raven's Shade (Belgium).

-- Anonymous, October 23, 2002

Much generalizing can be set aside if you know the context of the poem. The singular theme centers around the death of Mrs. Jane Stanard whose inspiration is memorialized in the more fsmous poem, the shorter "To Helen" which you will find has some similar imagery and themes.

IN his early years Byron was one of Poe's models. "I would I were a Careless Child" lins 21-24: Once I beheld a spledid dream, A visionary scene of bliss! Truth!- wherefore did thy hated beam Awake me to a world like this?

Poe takes the idea of the dream memory, the illusion of the past still existing quickly to another step. The first two lines; "I have dreamed of joy departed" set in the ominous "dark night" sets the theme. "But a waking dream" takes the idea of memory to the conscious level in the midst of the daytime world where no comfort of delusion accompanies the inner vision. The next stanza defends the waking dream claim by stating his eyes look to the light "turned back upon the past".

The four stanzas have a structure of a statement and contrast followed by a question-argument stanza that defends his statement rhetorically. Very neat and brief. The first two stanzas talk of a broken heart from contemplating joy departed, while the last two talk of the comforting power of its guidance, a contrast to the futility and pain of loss one might argue(all the world were chiding) stakes out the daytime claim in defiance of the defeatism of the dissipation of a night dream. This defiance you will seein more poems such as "Paean" and "Annabel lee" and other poems about dreams per se. So, despite Poe's own claim in "The Philosophy of Composition" that the melancholy subject has an ideal beauty, there is contained a element of stronger emotion.

"That holy dream" means a revelation, a beacon light guiding him on storm tossed seas("To Helen"). The light trembles as a storm obscured lighthouse beam but is "purely bright" despite being "a ray" or beam. This sums up the force of the continuing inspiration of the deceased Mrs. Stanard or his lost love, Elmira Royster, the twin romantic losses of his youth added to his being an orphan who also lost his beloved stepmother. For the young poet the inspiration of the first call to the arts and the first love combines into the single muse that guided his early career.

That light can be held up purely against all others in Truth's day-star(the sun shining over the fuller world), an exultation and comfort though a recognized sorrow as well for his "lonely spirit."

For a better symbolic visualization of his state read "To Helen." Compare the more useless complaint of Byron's, angry that the waking world wins out over a lost past. Poe clings to the waking memory as his guiding light always.

Does this help?

-- Anonymous, October 23, 2002

i dunno an answer! hahaha!! oh, lord, hahaha! well, then , ok, i shall venture back to my doings now, tootles!......oh, yea,.............. I LOVE RONNIE!!! ZEE LOVES NICK LONG!!!!! ....shhhhhh, i love ronnie...(again).......

-- Anonymous, October 23, 2002

Mr Murphy has given you perfectly correct informations and explanations. Nevertheless, I don't think absolutely necessary to use biographical data to grasp the whole meaning of this poem. After all, Mr Murphy assumed almost the same (and not thoroughly ungeneralizing) conclusion, by other path and similes. Some critics (Wilbur,1959; Mabbott, 1968-9; Campbell, 1917; &c, &c...) consider that Poe's private early life was transfused in all his early poems. As Mr Murphy, I believe them, but only to some extent. In the present case, in the 1827 "Tamerlane and Other Poems", with the first version of "A Dream" (check it at, with its additional first lines, as well as with the companions-pieces "Dreams", "Evening Star", "Imitation", "Visit of the Dead", and the other short effusions), you will find, I think, many echoes of Poe's early readings (Byron AND Moore, plus others), as well as of his youth's living years. The death of "Helen" (Mrs Jane Stan*n*ard) was in 1824; the composition of (the short) "To Helen" was after 1829 (published in 1831); the links may be probable, but, though often repeated, not fatally true. To the contrary, if you look, for example, at Th. Moore's verses "O, Thou Who Dry'st the Mourner's Tear" (one of his "Sacred Songs" published inb 1816 - available, thanks Heaven, on line, through "Google" - try it), you will see, to my mind, immediately the kind of Poe's mental and artistic technique to conciliate the very matter of Byron's and Moore's lyrical pieces, both, though somewhat antagonistical, in total keeping with his (Poe's) own sentiments at this precise period, (whatever these ones may have been) as we can catch them, consistently, through his first (suppressed) volume of Poetry. To me, the most useful biographical data (for better understanding of Poe's works) are what Poe had on his desk, when writing. But, alas, I was not in the room... Yours sincerely, Raven's Shade (Belgium).

-- Anonymous, October 28, 2002

I wish someone could just give an answer like, it's about some chick or it was about a dream he had i need to know too but it confuses me!!

-- Anonymous, January 29, 2005

ok, a simple answer, i think it explains his sorrow. he dreams of joy that he doesnt have anymore and when he wakes up its a reality shock. people "CAST"- look down on him for wanting to live a dream thats as far as i understand

-- Anonymous, February 16, 2005

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