Autumn Musings and Poe

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Photo © Dwight L. MacPherson

Poem for Explication: Edgar Allan Poe’s “A Dream Within a Dream”

We cannot imagine what our last thoughts will be, nor can we know if Poe experienced these feelings as he drew his final breath. What we can take away from this poem is a sense of the bigger scheme of the universe and our place in it. We spend our whole lives striving—working like dogs if need be—to attain what will ‘make us happy.’ I believe Poe would say that ‘All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.’ If we can grasp this concept, then perhaps we may yet reevaluate our priorities and release our sand into the surf with peace and tranquility when it is our time to stand upon the infinite ocean’s shore.

While looking through my files, I came across this conclusion from my explication for American Poetry class at East Tennessee State University.We were studying Three Centuries of American Poetry, and this particular explication focused on Edgar Allan Poe’s “A Dream Within a Dream.”

I tend to think about the tragic life and death of Edgar Allan Poe every Autumn. Maybe I  associate Poe with the air turning crisp, falling leaves, shorter days, and darker nights. This time of the year finds me sticking closer to home–and finding more time for introspective thought. With less than three months until a new year, I begin working through my annual mental list of accomplishments, of where I was and where I want to be next year. I’m certain Poe never imagined that he would meet such a sad end. From my research, I have found that he had many goals and ambitions that were never realized. I can only pray that I will live to fulfill my own.

-Dwight

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