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Edgar Allan Poe’s “A Dream Within a Dream” explores the illusion of love being only a dream. The speaker (who could be Poe) gives the poem both romantic and depressing tones through the tone shift between the stanzas. Poe connects the two stanzas through his rhyme scheme and use of iambic pentameter. He also uses imagery to illustrate the hopeful, calming, and romantic tone of the first stanza and the shift to a depressing view of the ocean, symbolizing the loss and futility that is seen throughout the second stanza. The juxtaposition of the stanzas allows the reader to detect the torment the speaker feels in the second stanza when he comes to a realization that he cannot relive the past and he contemplates his existence and the reality of it. In the first stanza, Poe uses light language to describe a goodbye to a lover. The speaker is happy and content when he describes how his days were spent: “That my days have been a dream” (line 5) and “Take this kiss upon the brow!” (line 1). The speaker’s word choice gives insight to the idea that the speaker will see the person, his love, again and that this departure is accepted. The speaker has hope that his lover will come back but understands that it is best if they say goodbye for now. The speaker tells this person that his time with her has been a dream, dreamlike or literally dreaming, the reader does not know. This introduces a main theme of the poem whether or not the speaker’s life is a dream or if it is reality. The idea of real and imaginary is seen through the speaker’s use of see and seem simultaneously to illustrate the diverging reality: “All that we see or seem” (line 9). The use of both seen and seem in one phrase exemplifies the internalized feelings by using the word “seem” (line 9) but also understands that these feelings are external by using the word “see”(line 9). This deliberate wording choice by Poe examines the duality of the moment described and considers the outside perspective. The title of the poem is seen at the end of the first stanza and the speaker is saying that because all he has seen “Is but a dream within a dream” (line 10) that reality doesn’t exist. What he has experienced is as far removed from reality as having a dream inside of a dream. ┬áThe rhyme scheme in the first stanza is a twist on the AABB rhyme scheme that parallels the main idea of a calm and romantic goodbye. The triplet in the first three lines are the main concept of the stanza, that lovers are parting, and it is dreamlike; the speaker is calm and peaceful. The rest of the stanza is in AABBCCDD rhyme scheme that is a continuation of the main idea. As the stanza comes to a close the speaker foreshadows the rest of the poem and how things are not as hopeful as he thinks in the moment. He signifies this starting at the alliteration “All that we see or seem” (line 10) which leads into the beginning of the second stanza where there is a shift in tone. This shift in tone is due to the speaker’s developed understanding of the duality of this moment and that his life is not reality, it is a dream. The first lines of the second stanza signal a change in the speaker’s tone. This shift starts off with a new setting, the speaker is now standing next to “a surf-tormented shore” (line 13) and can hear the “roar.” (line 12) The speaker details the “grains of the golden sand” (line 15) as he watches them “creep” (line 16) through his hands. The personification of the grains of sand by using the word “creep” (16) adds to the metaphor that Poe is building up. The alliteration “grains of golden sand” (line 15) draws attention to the allusion of time that is running through the speaker’s hands. The speaker also uses imagery such as “pitless” (line 22) to describe the ocean pulling away all hope of his love and reality. This metaphor becomes concrete in the next two stanzas as the speaker weeps in anguish as the sand creeps through his fingers. The metaphor Poe builds up is that the sand is the only physical thing that is allowing the speaker to have a grip on reality and the speaker has to watch as reality slowly starts to creep through his fingers, one grain of sand at a time. The speaker begs God, “O God! Can I not grasp” (line 19) to help him hold onto his reality, to not let the sand fall through like an hourglass, signifying his time in reality is waning. The speaker is trying to fight for what he believes is real and wants to prove that his life is not just a dream. The final two lines of the stanza are almost identical to the ending of the first stanza, but in the second stanza the speaker seems not have given up hope, but instead poses a question, “But a dream within a dream?” (line 24) The speaker does not want to acknowledge that he has lost love in his life, like he has lost the sand and so he poses a question. Between the first and second stanza, Poe employs a shift between that creates two separate meanings and tones with in the poem. Although the tone and the ideas presented in the stanzas are different, they are also intertwined in several important ways. In the first stanza, the speaker is calm and thoughtful while in the second, the speaker is filled with passion and despair. The parallel structure of the stanzas is best seen through Poe’s use of triplets to express the main idea presented. The analogous nature of the ending of the stanzas gives the reader the sense of futility that the speaker feels as he realizes that hope is lost and that reality is nothing like a dream. The speaker states, “All that we see or seem/Is but a dream within a dream./ Is all that we see or seem/ But a dream within a dream.” The alliteration in “see or seem” (lines 10 and 23) draws the reader to the idea that is also presented in the first stanza, of the loss and the idea that there are two realities, but the last lines in the second stanza announce that that hope is lost and that the reality is that the speaker’s life is a mere dream within a dream. Edgar Allan Poe’s “A Dream Within A Dream” presents a speaker’s struggle with the goodbye of a lover and a loosening grip on reality. The first stanza illustrates the hopeful and calm goodbye of two lovers, but the speaker starts to understand that he is losing his grip on reality. The second stanza uses harsh imagery, and the metaphor of an hourglass with sand falling out to illustrate the fight to hold onto his reality. Poe connects the two stanzas through similar rhyme structure and their concluding lines. The ending lines of both stanzas signify the end, and allow the reader to grapple with the idea that the reality of the speaker walks the line of real and imaginary.