A Dream Within A Dream is an extraordinary poem by a visionary young American poet, Edgar Allen Poe (1809 – 1849). The poem contemplates the illusiveness of hope and love. It balances precariously between physical, metaphysical and spiritual realms of being. The poem ends with a most powerful question (perhaps THE question); Is all that we see or seem but a dream within a dream?
Take this kiss upon the brow! And, in parting from you now, Thus much let me avow
You are not wrong, who deem That my days have been a dream; Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone? All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.
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! O God! can I not grasp Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave? Is all that we see or seem But a dream within a dream?
A Dream Within A Dream for mixed choir, erhu, zheng and vibraphone was commissioned by the Illinois Wesleyan University Collegiate Choir. The Orchid Ensemble (erhu, zheng and vibraphone), based in Vancouver, accompanied the Illinois Wesleyan University Collegiate Choir, directed by J. Scott Ferguson, for the premiere in 2008 in Bloomington, Illinois, USA. Subsequently, the work has been featured in the Asian Composers League (Taiwan) and at the Kyoto City University of the Arts Music Festival (Japan).
~ notes by the composer