Dreamed 1945 by Denise Levertov
"The will is given us that
we may know the
delights of surrender." Blake with
tense mouth, crouched small (great forehead,
somber eye) amid a crowd's tallness in a narrow room.
The same night
a bird caught in my room, battered
from wall to wall, missing the window over & over
(till it gave up and
huddled half-dead on a shelf, and I
put up the sash against the cold)
and waking at dawn I again
*The quoted words were spoken by Blake in my dream. This was London, 1945.
A NOTE FIFTY YEARS LATER
The first dream I can recall having written into a poem ("The Flight," Collected Earlier Poems 1940-1960), was dreamed in London in 1945 but not composed until several years later, probably in New York. The encounter with William Blake--who was sitting on the floor, his back against a wall and his knees drawn up, and whose prominent, unmistakable eyes gazed up at me as he spoke--was so memorable that the lapse of time has scarely blurred it... Yet if I'd tried to write the poem at the time of dreaming I would not have had the craftsmanship to accomplish it, and it would have been lost to me, because once crystallized in an inadequate form it would almost inevitably have become inaccessible to another attempt.
Denise's comment is from an essay titled "Interweavings: Reflections on the Role of Dream in the Making of Poems," in Night Errands: How Poets Use Dreams (ed. Roderick Townley, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1998). I recommend the whole essay--she discusses issues facing any dreamer trying to convey a dream's mood, experience or message to others (regardless of medium).
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