A Dream Sestina
dreamed late 1950s? by Donald Justice
I woke by first light in a wood
Right in the shadow of a hill
And saw about me in a circle
Many I knew, the dear faces
Of some I recognized as friends.
I knew that I had lost my way.
I asked if any knew the way.
But there were trees with human faces.
Discussing me, but not like friends.
And in that shadowed space the circle
And it grew dark. Behind the hill
Round me they circle on the hill.
This poem was published in Justice's The Summer Anniversaries in 1960, so the dream is probably from the fifties, but it could be even earlier; Collected Poems, my source, lacks notes for this particular piece. His only dream-inspired poem? ("Bad Dreams" isn't.) Atypical in subject, but his treatment's the same as (say) his reminiscences of small-town afternoons: simple low-key language, stately rhythm, keen awareness of light and shadow and mood.
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