In the God’s Dreams
BY james laughlin
Am I a character in the dreams
of the god Hermes the messenger?
Certainly many of my dreams
have nothing to do with the
common life around me. There
are never any automobiles or
airplanes in them. These
dreams belong to an age in
the distant past, to a time
perhaps when nothing was
written down, to the
time of memory.
I chose Hermes not out of
vanity but because from what
I’ve read about him he had a
pretty good time, was not
just a drunkard on Olympus.
In his traipsings delivering
divine messages he must have
met some pretty girls who
gave him pleasure. We know
that he invented the lyre
for the benefit of poets,
and Lucian relates in his
Dialogues of the Dead that
he was the god of sleep
My dreams are not frightening,
they are not nightmares. But
their irrationality puzzles
me. What is Hermes trying to
tell me? Is he playing a game
with me? Last Monday night
I dreamt about a school for
young children who had heads
but no bodies. Last night it
was a cow that was galloping
in our meadow like a horse.
Another night, and this one
was a bit scary, I swam across
the lake with my head under
water, I didn’t have to breathe air.
What is the message of these
dreams? Into what kind of world
is Hermes leading me? It’s not
the world described daily in the
New York Times. A world of
shadows? A kind of levitation?
How can I pray to Hermes to lay
off these senseless fantasies,
tell him that I want real dreams
such as my shrink can explicate.
I’ve looked up lustration in
the dictionary. Its definition
is not encouraging: “a prefatory
ceremony, performed as a preliminary
to entering a holy place.” That’s
too impersonal. I want a man-to-man
talk with Hermes, telling him to
stop infesting my nights with
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Entrance of the Gods into Valhalla, by Richard Wagner
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: A Day in the Forest of Dreams by Billy Childs
The White Island, or Place of the Blest
BY robert herrick
In this world, the isle of dreams,
While we sit by sorrow’s streams,
Tears and terrors are our themes
But when once from hence we fly,
More and more approaching nigh
Unto young eternity,
In that whiter island, where
Things are evermore sincere;
Candor here and luster there
There no monstrous fancies shall
Out of hell an horror call,
To create, or cause at all,
There, in calm and cooling sleep
We our eyes shall never steep,
But eternal watch shall keep,
Pleasures, such as shall pursue
Me immortalized, and you;
And fresh joys, as never too
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Lisle joyeuse by Claude Debussy
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: Symphony No. 1 (3rd movement) by Edward Elgar
BY kim addonizio
After eighteen years there’s no real grief left
for the man who was my father.
I hardly think of him anymore,
and those dreams I used to have,
in which he’d be standing in a room of people
I didn’t know—maybe his new friends,
if the dead have friendships—
those dreams no longer trouble my sleep.
He’s not in the crooked houses I wander through
or in the field by the highway
where I’m running, chasing down
some important piece of paper,
desperate to reach it
as it’s lifted in the wake of trucks
or flattened and marked by passing cars,
as it’s lifted again to swirl over
a broken wood fence. I don’t know why
the paper’s so important, or if anything
is even written there.
I don’t know where the dead go,
or why it’s good to forget them,
not to see them if they come crowding
the windows or trying to lay themselves down
and press along our bodies at night
and ask that we love them again,
that our sorrows include them once more.
This morning I couldn’t get up.
I slept late, I dreamed of the single
sheet of paper, which I never managed to reach
as it stuttered and soared over the grass
and a few flowers, so that I woke
with a sense of loss, wondering who
or what I had to mourn besides
my father, whom I no longer mourn,
father buried in the earth beneath grass,
beneath flowers I trample as I run.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: My Father, by Judy Collins