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Image Credit: The William Blake Archive (Public Domain)

Whither is fled the visionary gleam?
Where is it now, the glory and the dream?”

— William Wordsworth, ‘Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood’ (1804)

Ah, Master Dyer, as the Prophets say, the old Men shall dream Dreames and the young Men shall see Visions and you are young still.”

— Peter Ackroyd, Hawksmoor (Hamish Hamilton, 1985)

Ah! Thel is like a watry bow. and like a parting cloud.
Like a reflection in a glass. like shadows in the water.
Like dreams of infants. like a smile upon an infant’s face,
Like the dove’s voice, like transient day, like music in the air”

— William Blake, The Book of Thel (1791)

Hi, Ingrid of Experiments in Fiction here, glad to be back as your host after some time away! For today’s prompt, I want to explore visionary poetry, and the poetry of dream. I chose the above quotes, as they explore the relationshipbetween vision, dream, and poetry (Wordsworth); between vision, dream and age (Hawksmoor); and between dream and childhood (Blake). In Wordsworth’s poem, the poet is saddened by his loss of youthful visionary ardour, but, as the poem progresses, comes to accept in its place a certain wisdom and sense of harmony, both with nature and himself:

“We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering;
In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.”

It is a sentiment with which I can identify, especially having returned recently (like Wordsworth) to the Lake District landscapes of my youth: less light-of-foot, and carrying all the learning, sadness and wisdom of the intervening years. In the progression from visionary to dreamer, the poet’s craft is not forgotten, but rather transmuted “into something rich and strange” (to quote Shakespeare, The Tempest, 1.2.403).

Our hopes, desires and visions in time metamorphose into rich and carefully-crafted dreams, which I believe make for great poetry. After all, as Wordsworth states in the aforementioned poem:

“Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar”

The same idea is examined in the Hawksmoor quote, with the older Sir Christopher Wren poking fun at the young architect Nicholas Hawksmoor: the joke is turned upon its head, however, as the action of the novel unfolds, and the visionary landscape takes over from the concrete world of those obsessed with measurements and rationality. It is an idea inspired by Blake, who notes in There Is No Natural Religion (1788) that:

“He who sees the Infinite in all things sees God. He who sees the Ratio only sees himself only.”

This is a philosophy to which I cleave, and through which I find the mental freedom I need in order to write poetry.

The Challenge

For this prompt, write a poem inspired by a vision, dream, or both. If you want, you can return to Blake’s “dreams of infants” – perhaps you remember a recurring dream (or nightmare) from childhood which might inspire your poem. Or write about a more recent dream which affected you in some way. If you have ever been fortunate enough to have seen visions, don’t hold back – write about them, let them inspire your muse. I want this to be an expansive, rather than restrictive exercise, so please, take Blake’s advice:

“Damn braces; Bless relaxes” (Proverbs of Hell, 1793)

In other words – use any form you choose, and write whatever words you feel, so long as they are influenced by dreams and/or visions of past, present or future!

And just a reminder! For the first time ever we’ll host OLN LIVE twice this month, in hopes of being more inclusive across time zones: Thursday, January 19 from 3 to 4 PM EST – AND Saturday, January 21 from 10 to 11 AM EST: we hope to see you there!

I will see you on the poetry trail…

The Rules

For anyone who is new to dVerse, follow these simple rules to participate:

  • Post your 1 poem to your blog.
  • Mention or tag dVerse in your post, and link back to this post.
  • Paste the link to your post in the Mr Linky widget below.
  • Read and comment on the other poems linked up: we all come here to have our poems read!