Study Guide

Dream-Land Versions of Reality

By Edgar Allan Poe

Versions of Reality

From the very beginning of "Dream-Land," we can tell we're not in Kansas anymore. Even the title lets us know that we're entering a different world. Dreams are definitely involved here, and we see all kinds of impossible, unreal sights. Still, Poe doesn't make it so easy to figure out what's going on. He doesn't let us off the hook by saying: "And it was all a dream!" at the end. Instead, we're on a weird, scary trip into another dimension, and we can't really tell where we started from or when we might be going back.

Questions About Versions of Reality

  1. Does this feel like a description of a dream to you? What if we showed you the poem without the title? Do you think you would still make the connection with a dream?
  2. Does the world of Dream-Land seem real to you? Is it meant to be a substitute for waking reality?
  3. Is the speaker using his dreams as a way to escape reality? Do you think it ends up working?
  4. This question might be a little English teacher-y, but is there such a thing as "reality" in a poem? What's the difference between a poem and a dream? Are they just different ways of leaving the world behind?

Chew on This

The poem presents a variety of different possible realities and imaginary places, including Eldorado, Dream-Land, and Ultima Thule. This confusion forces us to reconsider the line between dream and reality.

Despite the wonder and excitement of the journey, there is a deep pessimism in this poem, since all escapes, all fantasies, eventually fade away into nothingness.