This edition combines The Dream Songs, awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1965, and His Toy, His Dream, His Rest, which won the National Book Award for Poetry in 1969 and contains all 385 songs. Of The Dream Songs, A. Alvarez wrote in The Observer, "A major achievement. He has written an elegy on his brilliant generation and, in the process, he has also written an elegy on himself."
The Dream Songs are eighteen-line poems in three stanzas. Each individual poem is lyric and organized around an emotion provoked by an everyday event. The tone of the poems is less surreal than associational or intoxicated. The principal character of the song cycle is Henry, who is both the narrator of the poems and referred to by the narrator in the poems.