Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Dream Within A Dream - Close Reading

A Dream Within A Dream
Edgar Allan Poe

"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!"

The word roar in the first line, is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary Database as, "a loud and deep sound uttered by one or more persons, esp. as an expression of pain or anger." This definition carries great importance to understanding the rest of the lines, since they carry a deep sense of pain and fear. The image of falling sand, for instance, calls to mind the image of an hourglass and how time is always moving despite a person's deepest desire and fondest wishes for it to stop. Additionally, the lines seem to flow together really smoothly and give the sense that you're hearing waves when you read it out loud or at least it did for me. It's an interesting technique, especially since the poem discusses waves on a beach and it's cool that he decided to make it sound peaceful when the words themselves speak of pain and fear. It's also interesting that he chose to make the sand golden in color, instead of a dull brown or gray. Golden brings to mind the good times in life, so it might be that the narrator is lamenting growing older.

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