A Dream, William Blake: Summary & Analysis

In "A Dream," William Blake crafts a vivid and symbolic portrayal of a dreamer's emotional journey and the guidance offered by nature's inhabitants. Through poetic language and imaginative imagery, the poem delves into themes of vulnerability, comfort, and the interconnectedness of the natural world. By juxtaposing the dreamer's distress with the soothing presence of creatures like the glow-worm and the beetle, the poem conveys a message of solace and interconnectedness.

A Dream

Once a dream did weave a shade
O’er my angel-guarded bed,
That an emmet lost its way
Where on grass methought I lay.

Troubled, wildered, and forlorn,
Dark, benighted, travel-worn,
Over many a tangle spray,
All heart-broke, I heard her say:

‘‘Oh my children! do they cry,
Do they hear their father sigh?
Now they look abroad to see,
Now return and weep for me.’’

Pitying, I dropped a tear:
But I saw a glow-worm near,
Who replied, ‘‘What wailing wight
Calls the watchman of the night?

‘‘I am set to light the ground,
While the beetle goes his round:
Follow now the beetle’s hum;
Little wanderer, hie thee home!’’

Critical Analysis

"A Dream" by William Blake intricately explores the emotional landscape of a dreamer's experience. The poem takes the reader on a journey from vulnerability and distress to comfort and guidance, personifying the dreamer's feelings through the emmet (ant) and the creatures of the night.

The poem opens with a dream-like quality, where the dreamer imagines an emmet lost on the grass where they lay. The emmet's disorientation and distress mirror the dreamer's own feelings of being "Troubled, wildered, and forlorn." The journey through the "tangle spray" captures a sense of confusion and heartbreak.

The emmet's cry for its children resonates with the dreamer, suggesting a shared sense of yearning and loss. The theme of family and separation is depicted through the emmet's plea for its children to "return and weep." The dreamer's empathetic response, dropping a tear, mirrors their emotional connection to the scene.

The introduction of the glow-worm introduces a contrasting image, a symbol of hope and guidance. The glow-worm's question about the "watchman of the night" adds an element of mystery and continuity, linking the dreamer's experience to the natural world.

The glow-worm's reassurance that it is "set to light the ground" and the beetle's presence, guiding the dreamer home, create a sense of protection and guidance. The beetle's hum becomes a comforting and reassuring sound, leading the dreamer out of their distress.

"A Dream" explores the interconnectedness of the dreamer's emotional state with the natural world and its inhabitants. Through this journey, the poem conveys a message of solace, guidance, and the transformative power of nature.


"A Dream" delves into a dreamer's emotional journey, using imaginative imagery to symbolize vulnerability, comfort, and interconnectedness. The lost emmet and its call for its children reflect the dreamer's own sense of longing. The glow-worm and beetle offer guidance and solace, leading the dreamer out of their distress. The poem portrays the transformative power of nature and the interconnectedness of emotions and the natural world.

Themes of the Poem

  • Vulnerability and Distress: The emmet's lost state and the dreamer's emotional turmoil evoke feelings of vulnerability and distress.
  • Nature's Comfort: The presence of the glow-worm and the beetle symbolizes nature's ability to offer solace and guidance.
  • Interconnectedness: The poem explores the emotional connection between the dreamer and the natural world, emphasizing their shared experiences.

Stylistic Analysis

  • Imaginative Imagery: The poem employs imaginative and symbolic imagery to represent the dreamer's emotions and the creatures' roles.
  • Personification: The emmet's cry and the glow-worm's dialogue personify emotions and natural elements, creating a sense of connection.
  • Rhythmic Language: The rhythmic flow of the poem's language contributes to its dream-like quality and emotional resonance.


  • Vulnerability and Distress: The dreamer's emotions are depicted through the emmet's distress and the heartbreak they experience.
  • Comfort and Guidance: The presence of the glow-worm and beetle offers a sense of comfort and guidance to the dreamer.


  • Expressive Language: The dialogue between the emmet, glow-worm, and beetle adds an expressive and emotive dimension to the poem.
  • Symbolic Language: The emmet and the creatures of the night serve as symbolic representations of the dreamer's emotions and the natural world's guidance.

Sound Devices

  • Rhythmic Flow: The rhythmic structure of the poem contributes to its dream-like and melodic quality, enhancing its emotive impact.
  • Alliteration: Alliteration, such as "follow now the beetle's hum" and "little wanderer, hie thee home," adds an auditory quality to the poem.
Feel free to explore further or ask any questions you might have about the poem!

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