A Dream Lies Dead Analysis by Dorothy Parker

A Dream Lies Dead is a poem by Dorothy Parker which is about the death of a dream of the Poetess and her grief over its death.

Summary of A Dream Lies Dead by Dorothy Parker

Everyone dreams. And everyone wishes for their dreams to come true. However, not all dreams come true. Some perish as we move on in our life. The poetess is going through a similar stage in her life. The poetess starts off with telling us that a dream lies dead and we must go softly. She asks to avert our eyes and not try and find out about this dream which is dead. She then asks to not walk in sadness, but at the same time give it respect by slowing our strides. She then cautions against being too excited and happy in our outlook (“words of hope and tender skies”) as everyone is aware that a dream has died.Everyone has felt the pain of not fulfilling a dream. She asks for respect for her dream, as one would accord to a person who has passed away.

The second stanza is where she expresses her grief over the death of the dream. She compares a dream with a petal from a tree which drifts from a tree. The petal might have been in bloom and proud, but once it drifts away it is gone and its loveliness is lost. Similarly, when a dream dies, even beauty acknowledges the imperfectness of the world. Her comparison shows the place she accords to Dreams in Nature. For her, a dream is a thing of beauty. A dream is something which helps in bringing balance to the world. And the death of a dream reinforces the imperfectness as well as decreases the beauty that exists in this world.

This poem is split into two stanzas of eight and six lines respectively. While there is rhyming in the stanzas there is no semblance of a rhyme scheme.


The title of the poem refers to the death of a dream of the poetess and her subsequent grief over the death.


The tone of the poem is one of sadness and mourning, as seems to be a common theme in Dorothy Parker’s poems.


Everyone has dreams, and often we’re unable to fulfill these dreams. In other words, dreams die. It is this death and the feeling of mourning associated with it that is the theme of the poem.


The poet has compared the “death” of a dream she had with the death of a loved one. A dream is something we cherish and protect and if we are unable to fulfill it we do indeed feel sad. She also compares the death of a dream to a petal in its full bloom breaking away from the tree. She associates this death as something which is so wrong that it imbalances the beauty of the world and showcases the imperfectness of this world.


The poetess uses vivid imagery to put her point across. She compares the death of her dream to the death of a loved one and the subsequent lines show how she expects everyone to behave like it is the death of a person, not a dream. She also compares the dream dying to a beautiful petal being separated from its tree, showcasing the imperfectness of this world.


The dream is personified as a person. Its loss and the grief suffered by the poetess is similar to what one would go through if a loved one died.

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