Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Cloudy Symbols : Dormant Dream

Print by Ellie Annan

Until recently, I thought a dream might die, might pass like the shedding of a skin or the molting of a feather - natural, painless. When your dream becomes exhausting, you have to wonder whether it isn't just the most giant relief to finally release it into the ether.

It seems, however, the death of a dream is rather like the Master's visit to Moscow - an inescapable debt that eventually must be collected. The dream demands to be mourned and the shallow hole it leaves behind must be acknowledged. You can't pretend it was never there. The letting go of the frustration and rejection also means the letting go of living in the richness of creative space; means letting go of dwelling with the muse. The acceptance of surface-scratching victories in the day-to-day means you've given up somewhere else. No one would argue it wasn't necessary. In our tight-lipped circle, preservation of sanity is something done behind closed doors in a controlled environment. A sound bite over coffee or a confession between forkfuls of salad is fine. But no one really wants to see you hanging by a thread.

And then the question is, what now? Presuming most people want to find a way to leave their positive mark on the world before their time is through, you have to get a new dream when the old one doesn't work out. The greatest poet who ever lived was younger than I when he died, yet his understanding of the treacheries of time were far beyond what his 25 years permitted. He wondered aloud the fears we face and touched upon an age-old race to figure it out and gulp it down as time marches on.
WHEN I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain,
Before high-piled books, in charact'ry,
Hold like rich garners the full-ripen'd grain;
When I behold, upon the night's starr'd face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And feel that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour!
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love;—then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think,
Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink.
- When I Have Fears by John Keats (1818)

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