A Dream Within a Dream

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First appearance in The Flag of Our Union.

"A Dream Within a Dream" is a poem written by Edgar Allan Poe, first published in 1849. The poem is 24 lines, divided into two stanzas.


The poem dramatizes a confusion in watching the important things in life slip away.[1] Realizing he cannot hold on to even one grain of sand leads to his final question that all things are a dream.[2]

It is opined that the "golden sand" referenced in the 15th line signifies that which is to be found in an hourglass, consequently time itself.[3] Another interpretation holds that the expression evokes an image derived from the 1848 finding of gold in California,[1] though this is highly unlikely considering the presence of the four almost identical lines describing the sand in another poem, titled "To ——," and regarded as a blueprint to "A Dream Within a Dream," preceding its publication by two decades.[3]

Publication history[edit]

The poem was first published in the March 31, 1849, edition of a Boston-based periodical called The Flag of Our Union.[2] The same publication had only two weeks before first published Poe's short story "Hop-Frog." The next month, owner Frederick Gleason announced it could no longer pay for whatever articles and poems it published.



  1. ^ a b Silverman, Kenneth. Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance. New York: Harper Perennial, 1991. p. 402 ISBN 0-06-092331-8
  2. ^ a b Sova, Dawn B. Edgar Allan Poe: A to Z. New York: Checkmark Books, 2001: 73. ISBN 0-8160-4161-X
  3. ^ a b Poe, E. A. (1969). Poems Collected in 1829. In T. O. Mabbott (Ed.), Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe, Volume I: Poems (pp. 130). Massachusetts: Belknap Press.

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