A Dream

A Dream

by Edgar Allan Poe 

In visions of the dark night
I have dreamed of joy departed—
But a waking dream of life and light
Hath left me broken-hearted.

Ah! what is not a dream by day
To him whose eyes are cast
On things around him with a ray
Turned back upon the past?

That holy dream—that holy dream,
While all the world were chiding,
Hath cheered me as a lovely beam
A lonely spirit guiding.

What though that light, thro’ storm and night,
So trembled from afar—
What could there be more purely bright
In Truth’s day-star?

Summary of the Poem, “A Dream”

  • Popularity of the Poem “A Dream”: Edgar Allan Poe, a great American writer and editor, wrote this poem. ‘A Dream’ is one of the best poems about thoughts and hope. It was first published in 1827 in Tamerlane and Other Poems. The poem speaks about the importance of dreams in the speaker’s life. It also illustrates how these dreams affect his life. It also deals with the bitter realities of life confronting a person.
  • “A Dream” As a Representative of Sorrow: As this poem is about dreams, the speaker starts describing a bad dream he had the previous night. He dreamt that happiness left him. He does not get scared of this nightmare because he knows that it is not going to harm his current depressed and dark life. For him, what really makes a difference is having good dreams about a happy life. Later, he expresses that he cannot interact happily with the real world around. Everything around the speaker drags him into the past, where he might have experienced bouts of depression and acute pain.
    As the poem progresses, he recalls the dream he once considered as holy. It had guided him and helped him escape from the world of miseries. He compares his dream world with the real world. The speaker also believes that the walking dreams of his life are better than the ones he had at night.
  • Major Themes in “A Dream”: Dream, sorrow and challenges of life are the major themes of this poem. The speaker presents dreams and their impact on their lives. Throughout the poem, he develops this idea that bad dreams cannot scare a person whose current life is filled with misfortunes. The poem speaks about the tragedies and losses he faced in life. That is why these bad dreams do not surprise him. Surprisingly, these dreams about light and optimism worry him.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “A Dream”

Literary devices are tools used by writers to convey their emotions, ideas, and themes to make texts more appealing to the reader. Edgar Allan Poe has used various literary devices to make his poems visual and appealing. Some of the major literary devices have been analyzed below.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /i/ in “But a waking dream of life and light” and the sound of /ee/ in “Hath cheered me as a lovely beam”.
  2. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line in quick succession. For example, the sound of /w/ in “While all the world were chiding”.
  3. Anaphora: It refers to the repetition of a word or expression in the first part of some verses. For example, “the holy dream” is repeated in the first line of the third stanza to emphasize the importance of the dream.
  4. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line, For example, the sound /n/ in “In visions of the dark night.”
  5. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break. It continues in the next line or verse. For example,

Ah! what is not a dream by day
To him whose eyes are cast
On things around him with a ray
Turned back upon the past?”

  1. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. For example, “I have dreamed of joy departed”, “While all the world were chiding” and “A lonely spirit guiding.”
  2. Personification: Personification is to give human qualities to inanimate objects. For example, ‘dream’ in the third stanza is personified as if a dream is a spiritual teacher who can guide him.
  3. Rhetorical Question: Rhetorical question is a sentence that is posed to make the point clear. For example, “Turned back upon the past?” and “In Truth’s day-star?
  4. Symbolism: Symbolism is a use of symbols to signify ideas and qualities by giving them symbolic meanings that are different from their literal meanings. Dreams symbolize hope and sadness.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “A Dream”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem. 

  1. Quatrain: A quatrain is a four-lined stanza borrowed from Persian poetry. Here, each stanza is a quatrain.
  2. Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows the ABAB rhyme scheme and this pattern continues until the end.
  3. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are four stanzas in this poem with each comprised four lines in it.

Quotes to be Used

The lines stated below are useful for a speech while talking about the importance of good dreams and being positive.

“That holy dream—that holy dream,
While all the world were chiding,
Hath cheered me as a lovely beam
A lonely spirit guiding.”