"To Sleep, Perchance to Dream"

"To Sleep, Perchance to Dream"
next
A Book Said Dream and I Do
Barbara Ras
There were feathers and the light that passed through feathers.

There were birds that made the feathers and the sun that made the light.

The feathers of the birds made the air soft, softer

than the quiet in a cocoon waiting for wings,

stiller than the stare of a hooded falcon.

But no falcons in this green made by the passage of parents.

No, not parents, parrots flying through slow sleep

casting green rays to light the long dream.

If skin, dew would have drenched it, but dust

hung in space like the stoppage of

time itself, which, after dancing with parrots,

had said, Thank you. I'll rest now.

It's not too late to say the parrot light was thick

enough to part with a hand, and the feathers softening

the path, fallen after so much touching of cheeks,

were red, hibiscus red split by veins of flight

now at the end of flying.

Despite the halt of time, the feathers trusted red

and believed indolence would fill the long dream,

until the book shut and time began again to hurt.
"To Sleep, Perchance to Dream"
next
A Dream Within a Dream
Edgar Allan Poe, 1809 - 1849
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?
"To Sleep, Perchance to Dream"
next
Lullaby of an Infant Chief
Sir Walter Scott
O, hush thee, my babie, thy sire was a knight,
Thy mother a lady, both lovely and bright;
The woods and the glens, from the towers which we see,
They are all belonging, dear babie, to thee.
O ho ro, i ri ri, cadul gu lo.

O, fear not the bugle, though loudly it blows,
It calls but the warders that guard thy repose;
Their bows would be bended, their blades would be red,
Ere the step of a foeman draws near to thy bed.
O ho ro, i ri ri, cadul gu lo.

O, hush thee, my babie, the time soon will come,
When thy sleep shall be broken by trumpet and drum;
Then hush thee, my darling, take rest while you may,
For strife comes with manhood, and waking with day.
O ho ro, i ri ri, cadul gu lo.
"To Sleep, Perchance to Dream"
next
Lullaby
W. H. Auden, 1907 - 1973
Lay your sleeping head, my love,
Human on my faithless arm;
Time and fevers burn away
Individual beauty from
Thoughtful children, and the grave
Proves the child ephemeral:
But in my arms till break of day
Let the living creature lie,
Mortal, guilty, but to me
The entirely beautiful.

Soul and body have no bounds:
To lovers as they lie upon
Her tolerant enchanted slope
In their ordinary swoon,
Grave the vision Venus sends
Of supernatural sympathy,
Universal love and hope;
While an abstract insight wakes
Among the glaciers and the rocks
The hermit's carnal ecstasy.

Certainty, fidelity
On the stroke of midnight pass
Like vibrations of a bell,
And fashionable madmen raise
Their pedantic boring cry:
Every farthing of the cost,
All the dreaded cards foretell,
Shall be paid, but from this night
Not a whisper, not a thought,
Not a kiss nor look be lost.

Beauty, midnight, vision dies:
Let the winds of dawn that blow
Softly round your dreaming head
Such a day of welcome show
Eye and knocking heart may bless,
Find the mortal world enough;
Noons of dryness find you fed
By the involuntary powers,
Nights of insult let you pass
Watched by every human love.
"To Sleep, Perchance to Dream"
next
Japanese Lullaby
Eugene Field
Sleep, little pigeon, and fold your wings,—
Little blue pigeon with velvet eyes;
Sleep to the singing of mother-bird swinging—
Swinging the nest where her little one lies.

Away out yonder I see a star,—
Silvery star with a tinkling song;
To the soft dew falling I hear it calling—
Calling and tinkling the night along.

In through the window a moonbeam comes,—
Little gold moonbeam with misty wings;
All silently creeping, it asks, "Is he sleeping—
Sleeping and dreaming while mother sings?"

Up from the sea there floats the sob
Of the waves that are breaking upon the shore,
As though they were groaning in anguish, and moaning—
Bemoaning the ship that shall come no more.

But sleep, little pigeon, and fold your wings,—
Little blue pigeon with mournful eyes;
Am I not singing?—see, I am swinging—
Swinging the nest where my darling lies. 
"To Sleep, Perchance to Dream"
next
Dawn Dreams
Rachel Hadas, 1948
Dreams draw near at dawn and then recede
even if you beckon them.
They loom like demons
you tug by the tail to examine from up close
and then let fly away.
Their colors at once brighter and less bright
than you remembered, they
hover and insinuate all day
at the corner of your eye.
"To Sleep, Perchance to Dream"
next
Dreams
Langston Hughes, 1902 - 1967
Hold fast to dreams 
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.
"To Sleep, Perchance to Dream"
next
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod
Eugene Field
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
   Sailed off in a wooden shoe,—
Sailed on a river of crystal light
   Into a sea of dew.
"Where are you going, and what do you wish?"
   The old moon asked the three.
"We have come to fish for the herring-fish
   That live in this beautiful sea;
   Nets of silver and gold have we,"
            Said Wynken,
            Blynken,
            And Nod.

The old moon laughed and sang a song,
   As they rocked in the wooden shoe;
And the wind that sped them all night long
   Ruffled the waves of dew;
The little stars were the herring-fish
   That lived in the beautiful sea.
"Now cast your nets wherever you wish,—
   Never afraid are we!"
   So cried the stars to the fishermen three,
            Wynken,
            Blynken,
            And Nod.

All night long their nets they threw
   To the stars in the twinkling foam,—
Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe,
   Bringing the fishermen home:
'Twas all so pretty a sail, it seemed
   As if it could not be;
And some folk thought 'twas a dream they'd dreamed
   Of sailing that beautiful sea;
   But I shall name you the fishermen three:
            Wynken,
            Blynken,
            And Nod.

Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,
   And Nod is a little head,
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies
   Is a wee one's trundle-bed;
So shut your eyes while Mother sings
   Of wonderful sights that be,
And you shall see the beautiful things
   As you rock in the misty sea
   Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three:—
            Wynken,
            Blynken,
            And Nod.
"To Sleep, Perchance to Dream"
next
Cradle Song
William Blake, 1757 - 1827
Sleep, sleep, beauty bright,
Dreaming in the joys of night;
Sleep, sleep; in thy sleep
Little sorrows sit and weep.

Sweet babe, in thy face
Soft desires I can trace,
Secret joys and secret smiles,
Little pretty infant wiles.

As thy softest limbs I feel
Smiles as of the morning steal
O'er thy cheek, and o'er thy breast
Where thy little heart doth rest.

O the cunning wiles that creep
In thy little heart asleep!
When thy little heart doth wake,
Then the dreadful night shall break.
"To Sleep, Perchance to Dream"
next
Darkness
George Gordon Byron, 1788 - 1824
I had a dream, which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguish'd, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth
Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;
Morn came and went—and came, and brought no day,
And men forgot their passions in the dread
Of this their desolation; and all hearts
Were chill'd into a selfish prayer for light:
And they did live by watchfires—and the thrones,
The palaces of crowned kings—the huts,
The habitations of all things which dwell,
Were burnt for beacons; cities were consum'd,
And men were gather'd round their blazing homes
To look once more into each other's face;
Happy were those who dwelt within the eye
Of the volcanos, and their mountain-torch:
A fearful hope was all the world contain'd;
Forests were set on fire—but hour by hour
They fell and faded—and the crackling trunks
Extinguish'd with a crash—and all was black.
The brows of men by the despairing light
Wore an unearthly aspect, as by fits
The flashes fell upon them; some lay down
And hid their eyes and wept; and some did rest
Their chins upon their clenched hands, and smil'd;
And others hurried to and fro, and fed
Their funeral piles with fuel, and look'd up
With mad disquietude on the dull sky,
The pall of a past world; and then again
With curses cast them down upon the dust,
And gnash'd their teeth and howl'd: the wild birds shriek'd
And, terrified, did flutter on the ground,
And flap their useless wings; the wildest brutes
Came tame and tremulous; and vipers crawl'd
And twin'd themselves among the multitude,
Hissing, but stingless—they were slain for food.
And War, which for a moment was no more,
Did glut himself again: a meal was bought
With blood, and each sate sullenly apart
Gorging himself in gloom: no love was left;
All earth was but one thought—and that was death
Immediate and inglorious; and the pang
Of famine fed upon all entrails—men
Died, and their bones were tombless as their flesh;
The meagre by the meagre were devour'd,
Even dogs assail'd their masters, all save one,
And he was faithful to a corse, and kept
The birds and beasts and famish'd men at bay,
Till hunger clung them, or the dropping dead
Lur'd their lank jaws; himself sought out no food,
But with a piteous and perpetual moan,
And a quick desolate cry, licking the hand
Which answer'd not with a caress—he died.
The crowd was famish'd by degrees; but two
Of an enormous city did survive,
And they were enemies: they met beside
The dying embers of an altar-place
Where had been heap'd a mass of holy things
For an unholy usage; they rak'd up,
And shivering scrap'd with their cold skeleton hands
The feeble ashes, and their feeble breath
Blew for a little life, and made a flame
Which was a mockery; then they lifted up
Their eyes as it grew lighter, and beheld
Each other's aspects—saw, and shriek'd, and died—
Even of their mutual hideousness they died,
Unknowing who he was upon whose brow
Famine had written Fiend. The world was void,
The populous and the powerful was a lump,
Seasonless, herbless, treeless, manless, lifeless—
A lump of death—a chaos of hard clay.
The rivers, lakes and ocean all stood still,
And nothing stirr'd within their silent depths;
Ships sailorless lay rotting on the sea,
And their masts fell down piecemeal: as they dropp'd
They slept on the abyss without a surge—
The waves were dead; the tides were in their grave,
The moon, their mistress, had expir'd before;
The winds were wither'd in the stagnant air,
And the clouds perish'd; Darkness had no need
Of aid from them—She was the Universe.
"To Sleep, Perchance to Dream"
next
Grasshopper
Ron Padgett, 1942
It's funny when the mind thinks about the psyche,
as if a grasshopper could ponder a helicopter.

It's a bad idea to fall asleep
while flying a helicopter:

when you wake up, the helicopter is gone
and you are too, left behind in a dream,

and there is no way to catch up,
for catching up doesn't figure

in the scheme of things. You are
who you are, right now,

and the mind is so scared it closes its eyes
and then forgets it has eyes

and the grasshopper, the one that thinks
you're a helicopter, leaps onto your back!

He is a brave little grasshopper
and he never sleeps

for the poem he writes is the act
of always being awake, better than anything

you could ever write or do.
Then he springs away.
"To Sleep, Perchance to Dream"
next
O Little Root of a Dream
Paul Celan, 1930 - 1970
O little root of a dream 
you hold me here 
undermined by blood, 
no longer visible to anyone, 
property of death.

Curve a face
that there may be speech, of earth, 
of ardor, of
things with eyes, even
here, where you read me blind,

even 
here, 
where you 
refute me, 
to the letter.
"To Sleep, Perchance to Dream"
next
Raven's Last Dream
Red Hawk
Raven was in a deep sleep,
dreaming the world. He saw things
and they happened, He dreamed things
and they came to life. He hardly knew 
where to begin or what to do 

once the world was. At last He understood 
Fodder's dilemma. It troubled Him, 
made Him restless, disturbed His sleep. 
Then the terrible thing happened:
He had a thought.
 
Everything dream? He wonder.
Then the worst thing happened:
He had another thought, one thought
following the other.
Who dreaming Raven? He wonder and
 
this woke Him up.
He looked up, He looked down, He
looked all around.
Don't know, He say and
He couldn't get back to sleep.
"To Sleep, Perchance to Dream"
next
Roy Orbison and John Milton Are Still Dreaming
April Bernard
You know what I mean: In the instant
of waking in bliss, the whole body smiles—

He's still alive—She came back—They didn't mean it—
We forgive and are forgiven—It all turned out—

And then the hand claws the duvet,
seized by the real, as all that's warm just drops.

I know you know. But I seek a potion
to make me dream of the actual with the same fervor,

so I'll wake to happy facts: It's spring! It's raining! Robins!
Someone will return a phone call today! My son

has watched the clock and let me nap for 35 minutes!—
and does not notice my face smacked wet

by the snap of the delusion, unmatched in sweetness,
that you promised to hold me always.
"To Sleep, Perchance to Dream"
next
The Song in the Dream
Saskia Hamilton
The song itself had hinges. The clasp on the eighteenth-century Bible 
had hinges, which creaked; when you released the catch, 
the book would sigh and expand.

The song was of two wholes joined by hinges, 
and I was worried about the joining, the spaces in between 
the joints, the weight of each side straining them.
"To Sleep, Perchance to Dream"
next
Everyone Is Asleep
Enomoto Seifu-jo
Everyone is asleep
There is nothing to come between
The moon and me.
"To Sleep, Perchance to Dream"
next
Great Sleeps I Have Known
Robin Becker
Once in a cradle in Norway folded
like Odin's eight-legged horse Sleipnir
as a ship in full sail transported the dead to Valhalla

Once on a mountain in Taos after making love
in my thirties the decade of turquoise and silver

After your brother walked into the Atlantic
to scatter your mothers ashes his khakis soaked
to the knees his shirtsleeves blowing

At the top of the cottage in a thunderstorm
once or twice each summer covetous of my solitude

Immediately following lunch
against circadian rhythms, once
in a bunk bed in a dormitory in the White Mountains

Once in a hollow tree in Wyoming
A snow squall blew in the guide said  tie up your horses

The last night in the Katmandu guest house
where I saw a bird fly from a monk's mouth
a consolidated sleep of East and West

Once on a horsehair mattress two feet thick
I woke up singing
as in the apocryphal story of my birth
at Temple University Hospital

On the mesa with the burrowing owls
on the mesa with the prairie dogs

Willing to be lucky
I ran the perimeter road in my sleep
entrained to the cycles of light and dark
Sometimes my dead sister visited my dreams

Once on the beach in New Jersey
after the turtles deposited their eggs
before my parents grew old, nocturnal
"To Sleep, Perchance to Dream"
next
To Sleep
Henri Cole, 1956
Then out of the darkness leapt a bare hand
that stroked my brow, "Come along, child;
stretch out your feet under the blanket.
Darkness will give you back, unremembering.
Do not be afraid." So I put down my book
and pushed like a finger through sheer silk,
the autobiographical part of me, the am,
snatched up to a different place, where I was
no longer my body but something more—
the compulsive, disorderly parts of me
in a state of equalization, everything sliding off:
war, love, suicide, poverty—as the rebellious,
mortal, I, I, I lay, like a beetle irrigating a rose,
my red thoughts in a red shade all I was.
"To Sleep, Perchance to Dream"
next
The Sleepers
Walt Whitman, 1819 - 1892
1 

I wander all night in my vision, 
Stepping with light feet, swiftly and noiselessly stepping and stopping, 
Bending with open eyes over the shut eyes of sleepers, 
Wandering and confused, lost to myself, ill-assorted, contradictory, 
Pausing, gazing, bending, and stopping. 

How solemn they look there, stretch'd and still, 
How quiet they breathe, the little children in their cradles. 

The wretched features of ennuyes, the white features of corpses, the 
livid faces of drunkards, the sick-gray faces of onanists, 
The gash'd bodies on battle-fields, the insane in their 
strong-door'd rooms, the sacred idiots, the new-born emerging 
from gates, and the dying emerging from gates, 
The night pervades them and infolds them. 

The married couple sleep calmly in their bed, he with his palm on 
the hip of the wife, and she with her palm on the hip of the husband, 
The sisters sleep lovingly side by side in their bed, 
The men sleep lovingly side by side in theirs, 
And the mother sleeps with her little child carefully wrapt. 

The blind sleep, and the deaf and dumb sleep, 
The prisoner sleeps well in the prison, the runaway son sleeps, 
The murderer that is to be hung next day, how does he sleep? 
And the murder'd person, how does he sleep? 

The female that loves unrequited sleeps, 
And the male that loves unrequited sleeps, 
The head of the money-maker that plotted all day sleeps, 
And the enraged and treacherous dispositions, all, all sleep. 

I stand in the dark with drooping eyes by the worst-suffering and 
the most restless, 
I pass my hands soothingly to and fro a few inches from them, 
The restless sink in their beds, they fitfully sleep. 

Now I pierce the darkness, new beings appear, 
The earth recedes from me into the night, 
I saw that it was beautiful, and I see that what is not the earth is 
beautiful. 

I go from bedside to bedside, I sleep close with the other sleepers 
each in turn, 
I dream in my dream all the dreams of the other dreamers, 
And I become the other dreamers. 

I am a dance--play up there! the fit is whirling me fast! 

I am the ever-laughing--it is new moon and twilight, 
I see the hiding of douceurs, I see nimble ghosts whichever way look, 
Cache and cache again deep in the ground and sea, and where it is 
neither ground nor sea. 

Well do they do their jobs those journeymen divine, 
Only from me can they hide nothing, and would not if they could, 
I reckon I am their boss and they make me a pet besides, 
And surround me and lead me and run ahead when I walk, 
To lift their cunning covers to signify me with stretch'd arms, and 
resume the way; 
Onward we move, a gay gang of blackguards! with mirth-shouting 
music and wild-flapping pennants of joy! 

I am the actor, the actress, the voter, the politician, 
The emigrant and the exile, the criminal that stood in the box, 
He who has been famous and he who shall be famous after to-day, 
The stammerer, the well-form'd person, the wasted or feeble person. 

I am she who adorn'd herself and folded her hair expectantly, 
My truant lover has come, and it is dark. 

Double yourself and receive me darkness, 
Receive me and my lover too, he will not let me go without him. 

I roll myself upon you as upon a bed, I resign myself to the dusk. 

He whom I call answers me and takes the place of my lover, 
He rises with me silently from the bed. 

Darkness, you are gentler than my lover, his flesh was sweaty and panting, 
I feel the hot moisture yet that he left me. 

My hands are spread forth, I pass them in all directions, 
I would sound up the shadowy shore to which you are journeying. 

Be careful darkness! already what was it touch'd me? 
I thought my lover had gone, else darkness and he are one, 
I hear the heart-beat, I follow, I fade away. 

2 

I descend my western course, my sinews are flaccid, 
Perfume and youth course through me and I am their wake. 

It is my face yellow and wrinkled instead of the old woman's, 
I sit low in a straw-bottom chair and carefully darn my grandson's 
stockings. 

It is I too, the sleepless widow looking out on the winter midnight, 
I see the sparkles of starshine on the icy and pallid earth. 

A shroud I see and I am the shroud, I wrap a body and lie in the coffin, 
It is dark here under ground, it is not evil or pain here, it is 
blank here, for reasons. 

(It seems to me that every thing in the light and air ought to be happy, 
Whoever is not in his coffin and the dark grave let him know he has enough.) 

3 

I see a beautiful gigantic swimmer swimming naked through the eddies 
of the sea, 
His brown hair lies close and even to his head, he strikes out with 
courageous arms, he urges himself with his legs, 
I see his white body, I see his undaunted eyes, 
I hate the swift-running eddies that would dash him head-foremost on 
the rocks. 

What are you doing you ruffianly red-trickled waves? 
Will you kill the courageous giant? will you kill him in the prime 
of his middle age? 

Steady and long he struggles, 
He is baffled, bang'd, bruis'd, he holds out while his strength 
holds out, 
The slapping eddies are spotted with his blood, they bear him away, 
they roll him, swing him, turn him, 
His beautiful body is borne in the circling eddies, it is 
continually bruis'd on rocks, 
Swiftly and ought of sight is borne the brave corpse. 

4 

I turn but do not extricate myself, 
Confused, a past-reading, another, but with darkness yet. 

The beach is cut by the razory ice-wind, the wreck-guns sound, 
The tempest lulls, the moon comes floundering through the drifts. 

I look where the ship helplessly heads end on, I hear the burst as 
she strikes, I hear the howls of dismay, they grow fainter and fainter. 

I cannot aid with my wringing fingers, 
I can but rush to the surf and let it drench me and freeze upon me. 

I search with the crowd, not one of the company is wash'd to us alive, 
In the morning I help pick up the dead and lay them in rows in a barn. 

5 

Now of the older war-days, the defeat at Brooklyn, 
Washington stands inside the lines, he stands on the intrench'd 
hills amid a crowd of officers. 
His face is cold and damp, he cannot repress the weeping drops, 
He lifts the glass perpetually to his eyes, the color is blanch'd 
from his cheeks, 
He sees the slaughter of the southern braves confided to him by 
their parents. 

The same at last and at last when peace is declared, 
He stands in the room of the old tavern, the well-belov'd soldiers 
all pass through, 
The officers speechless and slow draw near in their turns, 
The chief encircles their necks with his arm and kisses them on the cheek, 
He kisses lightly the wet cheeks one after another, he shakes hands 
and bids good-by to the army. 

6 

Now what my mother told me one day as we sat at dinner together, 
Of when she was a nearly grown girl living home with her parents on 
the old homestead. 

A red squaw came one breakfast-time to the old homestead, 
On her back she carried a bundle of rushes for rush-bottoming chairs, 
Her hair, straight, shiny, coarse, black, profuse, half-envelop'd 
her face, 
Her step was free and elastic, and her voice sounded exquisitely as 
she spoke. 

My mother look'd in delight and amazement at the stranger, 
She look'd at the freshness of her tall-borne face and full and 
pliant limbs, 
The more she look'd upon her she loved her, 
Never before had she seen such wonderful beauty and purity, 
She made her sit on a bench by the jamb of the fireplace, she cook'd 
food for her, 
She had no work to give her, but she gave her remembrance and fondness. 

The red squaw staid all the forenoon, and toward the middle of the 
afternoon she went away, 
O my mother was loth to have her go away, 
All the week she thought of her, she watch'd for her many a month, 
She remember'd her many a winter and many a summer, 
But the red squaw never came nor was heard of there again. 

7 

A show of the summer softness--a contact of something unseen--an 
amour of the light and air, 
I am jealous and overwhelm'd with friendliness, 
And will go gallivant with the light and air myself. 

O love and summer, you are in the dreams and in me, 
Autumn and winter are in the dreams, the farmer goes with his thrift, 
The droves and crops increase, the barns are well-fill'd. 

Elements merge in the night, ships make tacks in the dreams, 
The sailor sails, the exile returns home, 
The fugitive returns unharm'd, the immigrant is back beyond months 
and years, 
The poor Irishman lives in the simple house of his childhood with 
the well known neighbors and faces, 
They warmly welcome him, he is barefoot again, he forgets he is well off, 
The Dutchman voyages home, and the Scotchman and Welshman voyage 
home, and the native of the Mediterranean voyages home, 
To every port of England, France, Spain, enter well-fill'd ships, 
The Swiss foots it toward his hills, the Prussian goes his way, the 
Hungarian his way, and the Pole his way, 
The Swede returns, and the Dane and Norwegian return. 

The homeward bound and the outward bound, 
The beautiful lost swimmer, the ennuye, the onanist, the female that 
loves unrequited, the money-maker, 
The actor and actress, those through with their parts and those 
waiting to commence, 
The affectionate boy, the husband and wife, the voter, the nominee 
that is chosen and the nominee that has fail'd, 
The great already known and the great any time after to-day, 
The stammerer, the sick, the perfect-form'd, the homely, 
The criminal that stood in the box, the judge that sat and sentenced 
him, the fluent lawyers, the jury, the audience, 
The laugher and weeper, the dancer, the midnight widow, the red squaw, 
The consumptive, the erysipalite, the idiot, he that is wrong'd, 
The antipodes, and every one between this and them in the dark, 
I swear they are averaged now--one is no better than the other, 
The night and sleep have liken'd them and restored them. 

I swear they are all beautiful, 
Every one that sleeps is beautiful, every thing in the dim light is 
beautiful, 
The wildest and bloodiest is over, and all is peace. 

Peace is always beautiful, 
The myth of heaven indicates peace and night. 

The myth of heaven indicates the soul, 
The soul is always beautiful, it appears more or it appears less, it 
comes or it lags behind, 
It comes from its embower'd garden and looks pleasantly on itself 
and encloses the world, 
Perfect and clean the genitals previously jetting,and perfect and 
clean the womb cohering, 
The head well-grown proportion'd and plumb, and the bowels and 
joints proportion'd and plumb. 

The soul is always beautiful, 
The universe is duly in order, every thing is in its place, 
What has arrived is in its place and what waits shall be in its place, 
The twisted skull waits, the watery or rotten blood waits, 
The child of the glutton or venerealee waits long, and the child of 
the drunkard waits long, and the drunkard himself waits long, 
The sleepers that lived and died wait, the far advanced are to go on 
in their turns, and the far behind are to come on in their turns, 
The diverse shall be no less diverse, but they shall flow and unite-- 
they unite now. 

8 

The sleepers are very beautiful as they lie unclothed, 
They flow hand in hand over the whole earth from east to west as 
they lie unclothed, 
The Asiatic and African are hand in hand, the European and American 
are hand in hand, 
Learn'd and unlearn'd are hand in hand, and male and female are hand 
in hand, 
The bare arm of the girl crosses the bare breast of her lover, they 
press close without lust, his lips press her neck, 
The father holds his grown or ungrown son in his arms with 
measureless love, and the son holds the father in his arms with 
measureless love, 
The white hair of the mother shines on the white wrist of the daughter, 
The breath of the boy goes with the breath of the man, friend is 
inarm'd by friend, 
The scholar kisses the teacher and the teacher kisses the scholar, 
the wrong 'd made right, 
The call of the slave is one with the master's call, and the master 
salutes the slave, 
The felon steps forth from the prison, the insane becomes sane, the 
suffering of sick persons is reliev'd, 
The sweatings and fevers stop, the throat that was unsound is sound, 
the lungs of the consumptive are resumed, the poor distress'd 
head is free, 
The joints of the rheumatic move as smoothly as ever, and smoother 
than ever, 
Stiflings and passages open, the paralyzed become supple, 
The swell'd and convuls'd and congested awake to themselves in condition, 
They pass the invigoration of the night and the chemistry of the 
night, and awake. 

I too pass from the night, 
I stay a while away O night, but I return to you again and love you. 

Why should I be afraid to trust myself to you? 
I am not afraid, I have been well brought forward by you, 
I love the rich running day, but I do not desert her in whom I lay so long, 
I know not how I came of you and I know not where I go with you, but 
I know I came well and shall go well. 

I will stop only a time with the night, and rise betimes, 
I will duly pass the day O my mother, and duly return to you.
"To Sleep, Perchance to Dream"
next
City That Does Not Sleep
Federico García Lorca, 1898 - 1936
In the sky there is nobody asleep.  Nobody, nobody.
Nobody is asleep.
The creatures of the moon sniff and prowl about their cabins.
The living iguanas will come and bite the men who do not dream,
and the man who rushes out with his spirit broken will meet on the 
            street corner
the unbelievable alligator quiet beneath the tender protest of the
            stars.

Nobody is asleep on earth.  Nobody, nobody.
Nobody is asleep.
In a graveyard far off there is a corpse
who has moaned for three years
because of a dry countryside on his knee;
and that boy they buried this morning cried so much
it was necessary to call out the dogs to keep him quiet.

Life is not a dream.  Careful!  Careful!  Careful!
We fall down the stairs in order to eat the moist earth
or we climb to the knife edge of the snow with the voices of the dead
            dahlias.
But forgetfulness does not exist, dreams do not exist;
flesh exists.  Kisses tie our mouths
in a thicket of new veins,
and whoever his pain pains will feel that pain forever
and whoever is afraid of death will carry it on his shoulders.

One day 
the horses will live in the saloons
and the enraged ants
will throw themselves on the yellow skies that take refuge in the
            eyes of cows.

Another day
we will watch the preserved butterflies rise from the dead
and still walking through a country of gray sponges and silent boats
we will watch our ring flash and roses spring from our tongue.
Careful!  Be careful!  Be careful!
The men who still have marks of the claw and the thunderstorm,
and that boy who cries because he has never heard of the invention 
            of the bridge,
or that dead man who possesses now only his head and a shoe,
we must carry them to the wall where the iguanas and the snakes
            are waiting,
where the bear's teeth are waiting,
where the mummified hand of the boy is waiting,
and the hair of the camel stands on end with a violent blue shudder.

Nobody is sleeping in the sky.  Nobody, nobody.
Nobody is sleeping.
If someone does close his eyes,
a whip, boys, a whip!
Let there be a landscape of open eyes
and bitter wounds on fire.
No one is sleeping in this world.  No one, no one.
I have said it before.

No one is sleeping.
But if someone grows too much moss on his temples during the
            night,
open the stage trapdoors so he can see in the moonlight
the lying goblets, and the poison, and the skull of the theaters.
"To Sleep, Perchance to Dream"
next
In Memoriam, [To Sleep I give my powers away]
Lord Alfred Tennyson, 1809 - 1892
To Sleep I give my powers away;
    My will is bondsman to the dark;
    I sit within a helmless bark,
And with my heart I muse and say:

O heart, how fares it with thee now,
    That thou should fail from thy desire,
    Who scarcely darest to inquire,
"What is it makes me beat so low?"

Something it is which thou hast lost,
    Some pleasure from thine early years.
    Break thou deep vase of chilling tears,
That grief hath shaken into frost!

Such clouds of nameless trouble cross
    All night below the darkened eyes;
    With morning wakes the will, and cries,
"Thou shalt not be the fool of loss."
"To Sleep, Perchance to Dream"
next
Concordance [Working backward in sleep]
Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, 1947

Poem by Mei-mei Berssenbrugge
Illustration by Kiki Smith


Working backward in sleep, the
last thing you numbed to is what
wakes you.

What if that image were Eros as
words?

What would it be like if you
contemplated my words and I felt
you?

Animals, an owl, frog, open their
eyes, and a mirror forms on the
ground.

When insight comes in a dream,
and events the next day
illuminate it, this begins your
streaming consciousness,
synchronicity, asymptotic lines
of the flights of concordances.

An owl opens its eyes in deep
woods.

For the first time, I write and you
don't know me.

Milkweed I touch floats.

"To Sleep, Perchance to Dream"
next
Last Night I Dreamed of Chickens
Jack Prelutsky, 1940
Last night I dreamed of chickens,
there were chickens everywhere,
they were standing on my stomach,
they were nesting in my hair,
they were pecking at my pillow,
they were hopping on my head,
they were ruffling up their feathers
as they raced about my bed.

They were on the chairs and tables,
they were on the chandeliers,
they were roosting in the corners,
they were clucking in my ears,
there were chickens, chickens, chickens
for as far as I could see...
when I woke today, I noticed
there were eggs on top of me.
"To Sleep, Perchance to Dream"
next
Bedtime Story
Wanda Coleman, 1946 - 2013
bed calls. i sit in the dark in the living room 
trying to ignore them

in the morning, especially Sunday mornings 
it will not let me up. you must sleep 
longer, it says

facing south
the bed makes me lay heavenward on my back 
while i prefer a westerly fetal position 
facing the wall

the bed sucks me sideways into it when i  
sit down on it to put on my shoes. this
persistence on its part forces me to dress in 
the bathroom where things are less subversive

the bed lumps up in anger springs popping out to
scratch my dusky thighs

my little office sits in the alcove adjacent to 
the bed. it makes strange little sighs
which distract me from my work 
sadistically i pull back the covers 
put my typewriter on the sheet and turn it on

the bed complains that i'm difficult duty 
its slats are collapsing. it bitches when i 
blanket it with books and papers. it tells me
it's made for blood and bone

lately spiders ants and roaches
have invaded it searching for food
"To Sleep, Perchance to Dream"
next
Monna Innominata [I dream of you, to wake]
Christina Rossetti, 1830 - 1894
I dream of you, to wake: would that I might 
Dream of you and not wake but slumber on; 
Nor find with dreams the dear companion gone, 
As, Summer ended, Summer birds take flight. 
In happy dreams I hold you full in night. 
I blush again who waking look so wan; 
Brighter than sunniest day that ever shone, 
In happy dreams your smile makes day of night. 
Thus only in a dream we are at one, 
Thus only in a dream we give and take 
The faith that maketh rich who take or give; 
If thus to sleep is sweeter than to wake, 
To die were surely sweeter than to live, 
Though there be nothing new beneath the sun.
"To Sleep, Perchance to Dream"
next
The Book of a Thousand Eyes [A dream, still clinging like light to the dark, rounding]
Lyn Hejinian, 1941
A dream, still clinging like light to the dark, rounding
The gap left by things which have already happened
Leaving nothing in their place, may have nothing to do
But that. Dreams are like ghosts achieving ghosts' perennial goal
Of revoking the sensation of repose. It's terrible
To think we write these things for them, to tell them
Of our life—that is, our whole life. Along comes a dream
Of a machine. Why? What is being sold there? How is the product
emitted?
It must have been sparked by a noise, the way the very word "spark"
emits a brief picture. Is it original? Inevitable?
We seem to sleep so as to draw the picture
Of events that have already happened so we can picture
Them. A dream for example of a procession to an execution site.
How many strangers could circle the space while speaking of nostalgia
And of wolves in the hills? We find them
Thinking of nothing instead—there's no one to impersonate, nothing
To foresee. It's logical that prophesies would be emitted
Through the gaps left by previous things, or by the dead
Refusing conversation and contemplating beauty instead.
But isn’t that the problem with beauty—that it's apt in retrospect
To seem preordained? The dawn birds are trilling
A new day—it has the psychical quality of "pastness"  and they are trailing
It. The day breaks in an imperfectly continuous course
Of life. Sleep is immediate and memory nothing.
"To Sleep, Perchance to Dream"
next
Another Rehearsal for Morning
Joseph Massey
after Lorine Niedecker
Beyond a hand
held beyond itself
the mist is too thick to see.
A dream fragment (a phrase
I wanted to remember)
goes mute in this—
extinguished. Call it
consciousness. What
we lose to recover.
Acacia branches bend
the hill's edge
off-orange. A blur,
a deeper blur.
A clarity I can't carry.