Text: Edgar Allan Poe (ed. Killis Campbell), “A Dream within a Dream,” The Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, Ginn and Company, 1917, pp. 26-28


[page 26:]




Take this kiss upon thy brow!

And, in parting from you now,


Thus much let me avow —


You are not wrong, to deem


That my days have been a dream;


Yet if Hope has flown away

In a night, or in a day,

In a vision, or in none,

Is it therefore the less gone? [page 27:]



All that we see or seem


Is but a dream within a dream.


I stand amid the roar



Of a surf-tormented shore,


And I hold within my hand




Grains of the golden sand —


How few! yet how they creep

Through my fingers to the deep,


While I weep — while I weep!

O, God! can I not grasp


Them with a tighter clasp? [page 28:]

O, God! can I not save

One from the pitiless wave?

Is all that we see or seem

But a dream within a dream?


The texts of 1827 and 1829 differ radically from the text of 1849, and hence are reproduced here in their entirety. The variants of the Yankee and 1831 are given at the foot of the page.


[[Text of 1827]]

[page 26, continued, left:]


A dark unfathom’d tide

Of interminable pride —

A mystery, and a dream,

Should my early life seem;


I say that dream was fraught


With a wild, and waking thought


Of beings that have been,


Which my spirit hath not seen, [[.]]


Had I let them pass me by, [page 27:]


With a dreaming eye!


Let none of earth inherit

That vision on [[of]] my spirit;

Those thoughts I would controul, [[control]]

As a spell upon his soul:


For that bright hope at last

And that light time have past,

And my worldly rest hath gone


With a sight [[sigh]] as it pass’d on,

I care not tho’ it perish


With a thought I then did cherish.


[[Text of 1829]]

[page 26, continued, right:]

TO —— —— (1829)


Should my early life seem,

[As well it might,] a dream —

Yet I build no faith upon

The king Napoleon —


I look not up afar

For my destiny in a star:


In parting from you now

Thus much I will avow —

There are beings, and have been


Whom my spirit had not seen

Had I let them pass me by

With a dreaming eye —


If my peace hath fled away

In a night — or in a day —


In a vision — or in none —

Is it therefore the less gone? — [page 27:]


I am standing 'mid the roar

Of a weather-beaten shore,

And I hold within my hand


Some particles of sand —

How few! and how they creep

Thro’ my fingers to the deep!

My early hopes? no — they

Went gloriously away,


Like lightning from the sky


At once — and so will I. [page 28:]


So young? ah! no — not now —

Thou hast not seen my brow,

But they tell thee I am proud —


They lie — they lie aloud —

My bosom beats with shame

At the paltriness of name

With which they dare combine

A feeling such as mine —


Nor Stoic? I am not:

In the terror of my lot

I laugh to think how poor

That pleasure “to endure!”

What! shade of Zeno! — I!


Endure! — no — no — defy.



[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 26:]

Title Omitted in Yankee and in 1831 (where the poem is appended to Tamerlane), both these texts being fragmentary.

1-5 Omitted in Yankee and 1831.

6 Yet if Hope has: If my peace hath (Yankee, 1831).

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 27:]

10, 11 Omitted in Yankee and 1831.

12 stand: am standing (Yankee), was standing (1831).

13 surf-tormented: weatherbeaten (Yankee), wind-beaten (1831).

14 hold: held (1831).

15 Some particles of sand (Yankee, 1831).

16 yet: and (Yankee); How bright! And yet to creep (1831).

18-24 Yankee substitutes the following:

My early hopes? — No — they

Went gloriously away,

Like lightning from the sky

At once — and so will I.

1831 makes the same substitution, except that for the last of these four lines, it reads:

Why in the battle did not I?







[S:0 - KCP, 1917] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - A Dream within a Dream (ed. K. Campbell, 1917)