Appraisal of “A Dream Within A Dream”

A journalist may fancy himself an artist. We use words to create ideas, to help others visualize our deepest thoughts and beliefs. However, as I read Mr. Poe’s “A Dream Within a Dream,” I am left to wonder if these are the musings of a man gone mad with grief, a tormented genius, or if he is in fact, something the likes of which we have never seen before?

If not for Mr. Poe’s public antics (he has been seen around town more often with bottle in hand than with quill and paper), I would attribute his blasphemous questioning of life to the suffering he endures after the loss of his beloved Virginia. However, as a God-fearing man, a man who articulates facts, I cannot account for Mr. Poe’s behavior, nor his provocative writings.

Mr. Poe undoubtedly has a keen understanding of the old adage, “Time and tide wait for no man.” This is clear from his use of sand and sea imagery in his poem, but his pairing of it with calling our perception of reason (based on the likes of Plato and Aristotle) into question is bordering on heresy. The impermanence of Man is fact. Our time is quite limited, but is Mr. Poe’s apparent hopelessness a harbinger of things to come?

I believe this once bright man has given what is left of himself to the drink. “Is all that we see or seem/But a dream within a dream?” I suspect that Mr. Poe lives entirely within a dream now. A dream fueled by his lack of temperance and his inability to overcome the madness within himself.

By E.O. Cuthbert

Pages: 1 2

Leave a Reply