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Irises

Dreamed 1834 by Frédéric Mistral

Mistral was then about four years old. He had seen for some days that the water-iris in the draw-well moat was beginning to open, and his "hands tingled to pluck some of the lovely golden buds." Arrived at the stream, he climbed down to the water's edge, and stretched out his hand to clutch the flower, when he slipped up to his neck in the water. Soundly rated by his mother, he nevertheless soon found himself at the moat's side again, and splash!--the former process was repeated. He was saved by his mother who soundly rated him as before, and dressed him up in his festal suit. As luck would have it, before long he was beside the moat for the third time, and caution was flung to the winds when the temptation was repeated.

"There were those golden flowers again mirrored in the water and exciting my desire; but a desire so passionate, delirious, excessive as to make me forget my two previous disasters." He stretched out his hand as before, the reed he clung to with the other hand snapped off short, and for the third time he was in the middle of the stream, head foremost. There was a great fuss made, but he was saved, given a dose of medicine, and put to bed.

"Worn out with emotion, I soon fell asleep. Can anyone guess of what I dreamed? Why, of my iris-flowers!... in a lovely stream of water which wound all round the farmhouse, a limpid, transparent, azure stream like the waters of the fountain at Vancluse, I beheld the most beautiful clumps of iris covered with a perfect wonder of golden blossoms! Little dragon-flies with blue silk wings came and settled on the flowers, while I swam about naked in the laughing rivulet and plucked by handsful and armsful those enchanting yellow blooms. And the more I picked the more sprang up."

Frederic Mistral dreaming as a child that he's swimming among golden irises and blue-winged dragonflies. Digital sketch by Chris Wayan.
"All at once I heard a voice calling me, "Frederic!" I awoke and to my joy I saw a great bunch of golden iris shining by my side. The master himself, my worshipful sire, had actually gone to pick those flowers I so longed for and the mistress, my dear sweet mother, had placed them on my bed."

From Memoirs by Frederic Mistral, 1906, as quoted in A. G. J. Ratcliffe's History of Dreams (1923).



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