Friday, April 4, 2014

Poems about Dreams: Playlist for April 4, 2014


 

Toad dreams

By  Marge Piercy    

 

That afternoon the dream of the toads rang through the elms by Little River and affected the thoughts of men, though they were not conscious that they heard it.--Henry Thoreau

 

The dream of toads: we rarely

 

credit what we consider lesser

 

life with emotions big as ours,

 

but we are easily distracted,

 

abstracted. People sit nibbling

 

before television's flicker watching

 

ghosts chase balls and each other

 

while the skunk is out risking grisly

 

death to cross the highway to mate;

 

while the fox scales the wire fence

 

where it knows the shotgun lurks

 

to taste the sweet blood of a hen.

 

Birds are greedy little bombs

 

bursting to give voice to appetite.

 

I had a cat who died of love.

 

Dogs trail their masters across con-

 

tinents. We are far too busy

 

to be starkly simple in passion.

 

We will never dream the intense

 

wet spring lust of the toads.
 
 
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Jacob's Dreams by Darius Milhaud

 
 
 
 

 

A Dream Within a Dream

By  Edgar Allan Poe  

 

 

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?


REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Scene's from Poet's Dreams by Jennifer Higdon (video unavailable) 

 

The Dream

By  John Donne  

 

Dear love, for nothing less than thee

 

Would I have broke this happy dream;

 

            It was a theme

 

For reason, much too strong for fantasy,

 

Therefore thou wak'd'st me wisely; yet

 

My dream thou brok'st not, but continued'st it.

 

Thou art so true that thoughts of thee suffice

 

To make dreams truths, and fables histories;

 

Enter these arms, for since thou thought'st it best,

 

Not to dream all my dream, let's act the rest.

 

 

   As lightning, or a taper's light,

 

Thine eyes, and not thy noise wak'd me;

 

            Yet I thought thee

 

(For thou lovest truth) an angel, at first sight;

 

But when I saw thou sawest my heart,

 

And knew'st my thoughts, beyond an angel's art,

 

When thou knew'st what I dreamt, when thou knew'st when

 

Excess of joy would wake me, and cam'st then,

 

I must confess, it could not choose but be

 

Profane, to think thee any thing but thee.

 

 

   Coming and staying show'd thee, thee,

 

But rising makes me doubt, that now

 

            Thou art not thou.

 

That love is weak where fear's as strong as he;

 

'Tis not all spirit, pure and brave,

 

If mixture it of fear, shame, honour have;

 

Perchance as torches, which must ready be,

 

Men light and put out, so thou deal'st with me;

 

Thou cam'st to kindle, goest to come; then I

 

Will dream that hope again, but else would die.
 
 
 
REFLECTIVE MUSIC:  Midsummernight's Dream Suite by Henry Purcell
 
 
 

 

 

The Composer’s Winter Dream

By  Norman Dubie  

 

for my father

 

Vivid and heavy, he strolls through dark brick kitchens

 

Within the great house of Esterhazy:

 

A deaf servant’s candle

 

Is tipped toward bakers who are quarreling about

 

The green kindling! The wassail is

 

Being made by pouring beer and sherry from dusty bottles

 

 

Over thirty baked apples in a large bowl: into

 

The wassail, young girls empty their aprons of

 

Cinnamon, ground mace, and allspice berries. A cook adds

 

Egg whites and brandy. The giant glass snifters

 

On a silver tray are taken from the kitchen by two maids.

 

The anxious pianist eats the edges of a fig

 

 

Stuffed with Devonshire cream. In the sinks the gallbladders

 

Of geese are soaking in cold salted water.

 

Walking in the storm, this evening, he passed

 

Children in rags, singing carols; they were roped together

 

In the drifting snow outside the palace gate.

 

He knew he would remember those boys’ faces. . .

 

 

There’s a procession into the kitchens: larger boys, each

 

With a heavy shoe of coal. The pianist sits and looks

 

Hard at a long black sausage. He will not eat

 

 

Before playing the new sonata. Beside him

 

The table sags with hams, kidney pies, and two shoulders

 

Of lamb. A hand rings a bell in the parlor!

 

 

No longer able to hide, he walks

 

Straight into the large room that blinds him with light.

 

He sits before the piano still thinking of hulled berries. . .

 

The simple sonata which

 

 

He is playing has little

 

To do with what he’s feeling: something larger

 

Where a viola builds, in air, an infinite staircase.

 

An oboe joins the viola, they struggle

 

For a more florid harmony.  

 

But the silent violins now emerge

 

 

And, like the big wing of a bird, smother everything

 

In a darkness from which only a single horn escapes—

 

That feels effaced by the composer’s dream. . .

 

But he is not dreaming,

 

The composer is finishing two performances simultaneously!

 

 

He is back in the dark kitchens, sulking and counting

 

His few florins—they have paid him

 

With a snuffbox that was pressed

 

With two diamonds, in Holland!

 

This century discovers quinine.

 

And the sketchbooks of a mad, sad musician

 

 

Who threw a lantern at his landlord who was standing beside

 

A critic. He screamed: Here, take the snuffbox, I’ve filled

 

It with the dander of dragons! He apologizes

 

The next morning, instructing the landlord to take

 

This stuff (Da Ist Der Wisch) to a publisher,

 

And sell it! You'll have your velvet garters, Pig!

 

 

The composer is deaf, loud, and feverish. . . he went

 

To the countryside in a wet sedan chair.

 

He said to himself: for the piper, seventy ducats! He’d curse

 

While running his fingers through his tousled hair, he made

 

The poor viola climb the stairs.

 

He desired loquats, loquats with small pears!  

 

 

Ludwig, there are Spring bears under the pepper trees!

 

The picnic by the stone house. . . the minnows

 

Could have been sunlight striking fissures

 

In the stream; Ludwig, where your feet are

 

In the cold stream

 

Everything is horizontal like the land and living.

 

 

The stream saying, “In the beginning was the word

 

And without the word

 

Was not anything made that was made. . .

 

But let us believe in the word, Ludwig,

 

For it is like the sea grasses

 

Off which with giant snails eat, at twilight!” But then

 

 

The dream turns to autumn; the tinctures he

 

Swallows are doing nothing for him, and he shows

 

The physicians his spoon which has dissolved

 

In the mixtures the chemist has given him!

 

After the sonata was heard: the standing for applause

 

Over, he walked out where it was snowing.

 

 

It had been dark early that evening. It’s here that the

 

Dream becomes shocking: he sees a doctor

 

In white sleeves

 

Who is sawing at the temporal bones of his ears. There is

 

A bag of dampened plaster for the death mask. And

 

Though he is dead, a pool of urine runs to the

 

 

Middle of the sickroom. A brass urinal is on the floor, it is

 

The shape of his ears rusting on gauze. The doctors

 

 

Drink stale wassail. They frown over the dead Beethoven. Outside,

 

The same March storm that swept through Vienna an hour before

 

Has turned in its tracks like the black, caged panther

 

On exhibit in the Esterhazys’ candlelit ballroom. The storm crosses

 

Over Vienna once more: lightning strikes the Opera House, its eaves

 

And awnings filled with hailstones,

 

 

Flames leaping to the adjacent stables! Someone had known,

 

As thunder dropped flower boxes off windowsills,

 

Someone must have known

 

That, at this moment, the violins would emerge

 

In a struggle with the loud, combatant horns.
 
 
REFLECTIVE MUSIC:  Piano Trio No. 7 ("Archduke") by L. van Beethoven
 
 

 

The Dreamer

By  Eva Gore-Booth  

 

All night I stumble through the fields of light,

 

And chase in dreams the starry rays divine

 

That shine through soft folds of the robe of night,

 

Hung like a curtain round a sacred shrine.

 

 

When daylight dawns I leave the meadows sweet

 

And come back to the dark house built of clay,

 

Over the threshold pass with lagging feet,

 

Open the shutters and let in the day.

 

 

The gray lit day heavy with griefs and cares,

 

And many a dull desire and foolish whim,

 

Leans o’er my shoulder as I spread my wares

 

On dusty counters and at windows dim.

 

 

She gazes at me with her sunken eyes,

 

That never yet have looked on moonlit flowers,

 

And amid glaring deeds and noisy cries

 

Counts out her golden tale of lagging hours.

 

 

Over the shrine of life no curtain falls,

 

All men may enter at the open gate,

 

The very rats find refuge in her walls—

 

Her tedious prison walls of love and hate.

 

 

Yet when the twilight vails that dim abode

 

I bar the door and make the shutters fast,

 

And hurry down the shadowy western road,

 

To seek in dreams my starlit home and vast.
 
 
 
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Child's Garden of Dreams (Part 2)  by David Maslanka
 
 
 
 

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