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

No comments:

Post a Comment