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An example of Poe's melancholic and morbid poetic pieces, "A Dream Within a Dream" is a poem that pitifully mourns the passing of time. The poet's own life, teeming with depression, alcoholism, and misery, cannot but exemplify the subject matter and tone of the poem. The constant dilution of reality and fantasy is detrimental to the poetic speaker's ability to hold reality in his hands. The quiet contemplation of the speaker is contrasted with thunderous passing of time that waits for no man.