“A Dream” by Edgar Allan Poe: The Contrast of Light and Dark

Rembrandt

In visions of the dark night
I have dreamed of joy departed—
But a waking dream of life and light
Hath left me broken-hearted.

Ah! what is not a dream by day
To him whose eyes are cast
On things around him with a ray
Turned back upon the past?

That holy dream—that holy dream,
While all the world were chiding,
Hath cheered me as a lovely beam
A lonely spirit guiding.

What though that light, thro’ storm and night,
So trembled from afar—
What could there be more purely bright
In Truth’s day-star?

This is a poem of contrasts and opposites, most prominently the contrast of light and dark. But there are also contrasts between sleep and awakening, past and future, and happiness and sorrow. And while there is contrast, there is also balance. Even the fact that the poem is divided into four stanzas of four lines each generates a sense of balance, harmony, and stability. So this balance of opposites is the key to this poem, in my opinion.

In the final line of the poem, Poe mentions Truth—the big Truth with a capital T. This is the proverbial Holy Grail that philosophers, poets, and artists have sought after for millennia. Poe is asserting that the Truth lies somewhere in that nebulous space between the two opposites, between the darkness and the light. And the only way that one can glimpse that space where Truth hides is to embrace both the light and the dark and bring them into balance. Think of the Yin/Yang symbol. It is a balance of light and dark, of positive and negative. Both are needed in equal parts to achieve wholeness.

As we move into the dark period of the yearly cycle, we must be sure we maintain a balance of light.

Thanks for stopping by, and have a blessed day.

8 Comments

Filed under Literature

8 responses to ““A Dream” by Edgar Allan Poe: The Contrast of Light and Dark

  1. E

    I love playing with contrast and would agree with Mr. Evermore, the Truth indeed lives in between.

  2. I’ve developed this sort of “upwardly mobile” view of wholeness. What was okay at one stage of our lives might not be okay at another. The synthesis or balance is always shifting. As we get closer to the light and love of God, we’re still not perfect but better than before. So for me the very definition of “wholeness” changes.

    Btw, thanks for dropping by and looking at my piece about projection. I edited it a bit just after your visit. Maybe I could sense all the readers’ feedback without their saying anything! Twilight zone… 🙂

  3. I really love this poem, Jeff. It made me think of truth coming to light after being hidden in darkness for too long. I specifically thought about #metoo but of course Poe was writing about a more universal Truth.

    • Hi Monika. Brilliant connections, as always. I sadly must agree with you regarding #metoo. It pains me that every woman I know has suffered in this area. Hope you have a blessed Samhain.

      — Jeff

  4. markiplier

    this poem has heart i like that

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