“A Dream within a Dream” by Edgar Allan Poe essay

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The poem “A Dream within a Dream” by Edgar Allan Poe is a poem with a melancholic mood that is told from a first person point of view. The speaker in the poem is disheartened, because he has to part with his lover. He uses “the grains of sand in his hand” to illustrate that he cannot save his loved one, but to part from them (Line 16). This is because he does not have time to do so. “Lady Lazarus”, a poem by Sylvia Plath can be said to be symbolic in nature. It is also a first person account of a particular habit she manages to do “once in every ten years” (Lines 1 and 2). At first, the narrator tries to describe herself, and she notifies the reader that the fine features she posses “will vanish in a day” (Line 15).  She is telling the reader that she has managed to do this act three times in her life: once when she was still a little girl and the second time she did it on purpose. In line 43, the narrator introduces us to what the act really is, and we come to know that it is indeed death.

The authors of these poems have used different styles; some similar in both the poems while some are different. “A Dream Within A Dream” has two stanzas. These stanzas are situated in two different places. The poem has rhyme, which includes two and three lines that rhyme. The first stanza, for instance, has three lines rhyming, which are the first three lines of the stanza; “row, now and avow.” There is also a rhyme in the fourth and the fifth lines and the subsequent lines of the first stanza: “...deem and dream, away and day.” The poem has a total of 9 pairs of rhyming lines. There is also alliteration in the poem in the fourth and the fifth lines of the first stanza: “...deem, that my days have been a dream.” There is also an alliteration in “hope has flown away” (Stanza 1, line 6), and “And I hold within my hand” (Stanza 2, line 3). There is also a repetition in the poem. The words “all that we see or seem” (Stanza 1 and 2, lines 10 and 23) are repeated severally in the poem. This shows that the poet wants to emphasise on a certain point in the poem. The poem also has a refrain, which is seen in the repetition of the last line in two stanzas. The line “Is but a dream within a dream” is repeated as the last line of two stanzas. The poet also uses the style of personification. In lines 21 and 22 of the poem the poet says: “O God can I not save, one from the pitiless wave?” He personifies the wave and gives it a character of being pitiless. “A Dream Within a Dream” is a poem with a sombre mood, a sad tone and a theme of hopelessness and frustration. The speaker is sad because he is parting from his loved one and he realizes that his life has been nothing but a dream (lines 2 and 5). His hope has flown away (Line 6) and he is frustrated because he does not have the time and the capability to tightly grasp the sand that slowly slips from his fingers (Lines 19 to 21).  

The first style that is apparent in the poem is allusion, which is used in several instances in the poem. The title of the poem is Lady Lazarus which is an allusion to a story of a man named Lazarus in the Bible. Lazarus died and he came back to life, likewise, Lady Lazarus tells of the suicidal attempts of the speaker, who just like Lazarus, manages to come back to life instead of dying. The poem has 28 stanzas which have either three or four lines each.  Just like in the first poem, this poem has rhyme. Lines 1 and 2 of the poem rhyme “again and ten”. There is also rhyme in lines 13 and 14 of the poem “teeth and breath.” There is also an alliteration in the poem which is seen in the sentences “my featureless fine” (Line 8) and “crunching crowd” (Line 26). The poet also uses a simile in the poem: “bright as a Nazi shade”. This simile compares her skin with the Nazi shade, as she notes that her skin is as perfect and bright as the shade (Line 5). Another simile is “And like the cat I have nine times to die” in which the speaker tries to explain how immune she is to death since each time she attempts to commit suicide she survives and lives again.There is also a metaphor in the poem: “my right foot, a paperweight”. The speaker refers to us that her feet are so light that they have the same weight as a paper (Lines 6 and 7). There is also the style of personification in the poem. The speaker says: “soon, soon the flesh, the grave cave at will be.” The cave is given the characteristic of a person or an animal, which has eaten the flesh of the speaker. Another style that the poem bears is repetition the word soon several times in the poem (Line 16). The poem has a fearless tone. The speaker of the poem is careless and this is seen in the manner she speaks and even in the words she uses. For instance, she says “dying is an art ...I do it exceptionally well” (Stanza 16). The speaker demonstrates to the reader that she does not fear death, which is unlike for all people in the globe. The major theme of the poem is rebellion. The author is rebellious as she tries to commit suicide, which is so apparent that it scares people around her. She even threatens “God and Lucifer” (Stanza 27), which no one would ever attempt to do. 

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