Text: Edgar Allan Poe (ed. T. O. Mabbott), “Dreams,” The Collected Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. I: Poems (1969), pp. 67-69 (This material is protected by copyright)


[page 67, continued:]


The poem is obviously early, and in a Byronic mood. Killis Campbell (Poems, pp. 157-158) cites two passages possibly reflected: “The Dream,” I, 19-21,

... The mind can make

Substance, and people planets of its own

With beings brighter than have been ...

and Childe Harold, III, xiv, 1-3, [page 68:]

Like the Chaldean, he could watch the stars,

Till he had peopled them with beings bright

As their own beams ...

also connected with lines 6-7 of Poe's “Imitation”:

... waking thought

Of beings that have been.


(A) Tamerlane and Other Poems (1827), pp. 26-27; (B) Baltimore North American, October 20, 1827; (C) manuscript (1828).

The manuscript (C) in Edgar Allan Poe's hand, and once owned by Lambert A. Wilmer, is the latest text and is followed, by permission of the Trustees of the Pierpont Morgan Library. The second version (B) was initialed “W. H. P.” by Edgar's brother, but (although complete) is headed “Extract,” presumably as a disclaimer of authorship.


Oh! that my young life were a lasting dream!

My spirit not awak’ning till the beam

Of an Eternity should bring the morrow:

Yes! tho’ that long dream were of hopeless sorrow,



’Twere better than the dull reality


Of waking life to him whose heart shall be,


And hath been ever, on the chilly earth,

A chaos of deep passion from his birth!

But should it be — that dream eternally


Continuing — as dreams have been to me

In my young boyhood — should it thus be given,

’Twere folly still to hope for higher Heaven!

For I have revell’d, when the sun was bright


In the summer sky; in dreamy fields of light,



And left unheedingly my very heart


In climes of mine imagining — apart

From mine own home, with beings that have been

Of mine own thought — what more could I have seen? [page 69:]


’Twas once and only once and the wild hour



From my remembrance shall not pass — some power

Or spell had bound me — ’twas the chilly wind

Came o’er me in the night and left behind

Its image on my spirit, or the moon

Shone on my slumbers in her lofty noon


Too coldly — or the stars — howe’er it was

That dream was as that night wind — let it pass.


I have been happy — tho’ but in a dream.

I have been happy — and I love the theme —

Dreams! in their vivid colouring of life —



As in that fleeting, shadowy, misty strife

Of semblance with reality which brings

To the delirious eye more lovely things

Of Paradise and Love — and all our own!

Than young Hope in his sunniest hour hath known.


[page 69, continued:]


5  dull / cold (A, B)

6  shall be / must be (A)

7  And hath been still, upon the lovely earth (A, B)

14  In the summer sky, in dreams of living light (A, B) [except that the first word is from broken types in A and may be meant for I]

15  And loveliness — have left my very heart (A, B)

16  Inclines of mine imaginary apart (A)

20  remembrance / remembering (B)

27  tho’ but / tho’ (A)

[page 69, continued:]


19  The language reminds one of the opening line of the late poem “To Helen Whitman”: “I saw thee once — once only” — and of a passage in the tale “Eleonora”: “Once — oh, but once only, I was awakened from a slumber ... by the pressing of spiritual lips upon my own.”

19-26  These lines, Richard Wilbur (Poe, pp. 119-120) suggests, answer the question of the preceding line. The poet has once — but only once — had a mystic experience, becoming aware of the reality of his visions. Campbell (Poems, p. 158) thought the reference was to the moment when Poe realized his poetic genius.

30  The description is of a daydream, according to Wilbur as cited above.





[S:1 - TOM1P, 1969] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions-The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe (T. O. Mabbott) (Dreams)