Text: Charles W. Kent (notes) Robert A. Stewart (variants) (ed. J. A. Harrison), “Notes to A Dream within a Dream,” The Complete Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. VII: Poems (1902), pp. 150-152


[page 150, continued:]


Page 16.


Text, Griswold.

The earliest version (1827) runs as follows:


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,

With a dreaming eye! [page 151:]

Let none of earth inherit

That vision on my spirit;

Those thoughts I would 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 sigh as it pass’d on:

I care not tho’ it perish

With a thought I then did cherish.

The 1829 revision is as follows:

TO —— ——

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

To 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?

I am standing ’mid the roar

Of a weather-beaten shore, [page 152:]

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.

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.


My days have been a dream and hope has vanished. Time like sand grains slips through the fingers and every thing is a dream within a dream. Note this figure in “Locksley Hall.”

It does not materially aid the interpretation of this poem to consider it a part of “Tamerlane.”

It consists of iambic trimeter riming generally in couplets.



For the 1829 version of “To —— ——,” Harrison appears to have taken the text from the notes of the Stedman and Woodberry edition rather than the 1829 Al Araaf, Tamerlane and Minor Poems. This supposition is made in part due to the lack of numbering for the final stanza, and also because Harrison’s text gives a capitalized “King” and has no punctuation at the end of lines 1 and 16, which would agree with the text given in the Stedman and Woodberry notes and disagree with the text that was printed in 1829.


[S:0 - JAHCW, 1902] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe (J. A. Harrison) (Notes to A Dream within a Dream)