Comment 106 of 721, added on April 16th, 2006 at 7:55 AM.
I have posted about the meaning of this poem before, but would like to
repost it and add some comments in response to some other comments made in
I believe this poem is Poe coming to terms with his mortality and maybe
also losing faith in God or at least questioning God. In the first two
lines, Poe is saying farewell to life, his immortality. I disagree with
the interpretation that Poe is saying goodbye to a lover. He is giving a
kiss on the brow, not the lips or the cheek. It seems a more "general"
farwell. He goes on to say, "you are not wrong, who deem, that my days
have been a dream." It seems to me that he is talking not to just one
person, but to everyone.
Some people have commented that poe was only 18 when he wrote this poem,
and therefore he was too young to be thinking about his mortality. I
disagree. It is obvious that he was very advanced in his thinking for
being so young. It is amazing that he wrote this poem at only 18 in
itself! This is also an age when more mature thinking starts to show
itself. He was in the army at this time, and in war, soldiers die, so I
think this is a perfect time for young Poe to start thinking about his
death and questioning whether God exists. When he says "you are not wrong,
who deem, that my days have been a dream.", he may be saying that his
thinking before this was dreamy and immature and that he is finally growing
His days are dreams, because they do not exist anymore. The days past are
gone. Dreams end. Life also has an end. All his days pass into
nonexistance, just like the larger "dream" of his life eventually will.
Dreams (days) within a dream (life). His previous hopes that this isn't so,
that he will always exist, that there is something more, is gone. "Hope
has flown away." and once it's gone and doubt creeps in, you can't go back
to your old thinking.
In the second stanza, nonexistance is given the form of the ocean, and his
days (or time in general, as sand is often a metphor for time in poems) are
grains of sand, that he is powerless to stop from slipping away. I think
here he wanted to give the impression and image of an hourglass. The waves
of nonexistance are stealing his days, and will eventually take all of
Even though he has accepted the fact of his mortality in the first stanza,
he still fights it in the second, pleading with God (if he exists) to save
him, to let him know that his life will not pass into the "deep" of
nothingness. He tries to hold on to just one grain of sand; just one moment
in time that will stretch forever and save him from his impending death.
He wants to believe and have hope again that his existance is not just a
dream and has purpose, so instead of stating it like at the end of the
first stanza, in desperation he asks it as a question in the second.
"Is all that we see or seem, but a dream within a dream?"