Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers.--John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Angel from the Land of Sleep

"Angel Entering a City," Graham Ward.
Graham can be found at his blog and website.
 If you go to his blog, you can find out that he
was a Boy Dalek. If you go to his website,
you will find many wonderful pictures.

This morning I wrote a poem, "The Angel from the Land of Sleep and Dream Bestows a Gift." Nothing terribly unusual about writing a poem, of course; a certain number of slightly mad people do it all the time. But the part that I especially relished about this one is that I have not written a poem or story in my sleep for quite a while, and this time I woke up around six a.m. with the first three lines of a poem in my head and a very strong image in my head. (What is the word for writing in one's sleep? And if there is not a word, what should it be? Dormigraphia? Wrooze? Wrleep?)

Despite the fact that I am not a morning person, I leaped (not all that gracefully) out of bed and grabbed a pen and a piece of paper (which just happened to be a flyer advertising "Bach for Cello" with "David Gibson, cello" and "Dr. Bruce Harris, piano." I happen to know Dr. Harris, and he looks absolutely nothing like a piano. Nor does David Gibson resemble a cello, though he looks more like a cello than Dr. Harris looks like a piano.) I rushed into the next room, raised the blind a couple of inches, flipped over the flyer, and proceeded to write down the rest of the poem as it sluiced in from wherever poems sluice in-from. Delicious start to the day! No doubt I looked not like a cello or a piano but like a poor little mole who needed glasses. Or at least like a me who needed glasses. Which are now perched on my nose. Lucky for you, or this would be even more nonsensical than it is.

Here is the epigraph: Diary entry, 23 June 2011: Awakened by the image of a portrait in the style of Graham Ward, along with the first three lines of a poem. I wonder, if I tell him, will he paint it? Truth confessed: there is no diary. That's just a literary fol-de-lol. I don't have time to keep such a dawdly, lackadaisical thing as a diary. But now I am going off to write a letter to Graham Ward. Good-by!

Oops, back. Just remembered that I am not going to write a letter to Graham Ward because I am going to take a boy who had his middle school graduation last night to band practice. He's going to play for the high school graduation this weekend. Definitely farewell this time, and if anything in this post seems a little weird, chalk it up to the fact that not-morning people should not waken at six. Except in this case, they definitely should. And did. And so on, tra la!

17 comments:

  1. Dormigraphia strikes again! I sometimes write in my sleep or have ideas in my dreams, but when I look at them again while awake, they just aren't very good...

    ReplyDelete
  2. i adore this post.
    One of my favorites.

    and eagerly anticipate reading the poem.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Well, I was just as thrilled when I was 20 and wrote a poem in my sleep... But I know what you mean and have had that happen as well. I have gotten better at writing while sleep, though I don't do it as often as I would like. I suppose we may write poems and stories all the time while sleeping, only we roll over and forget them. Maybe those are the best ones!

    I have hunks of novels that were dreamed and even the organization of one novel was dreamed (if it seems strange, well, that's dream logic, I guess.)

    I do remember waking up weeping because a poem that streamed through my head seemed so beautiful. It probably wasn't nearly as good as it seemed in dream land, but in the dream it was as though I had really plucked "The silver apples of the moon / The golden apples of the sun."

    ReplyDelete
  4. Delightful story, Marly! Including the part about you peering at your flyer without glasses, like a little mole. My experience tends to be more like Hannah's - excitement and inspiration while asleep, then reality when the idea hits the actual light of morning! But do write to Graham - I'm so curious to know how he is and whether he's painting.

    ReplyDelete
  5. While I was writing Hannah, a zephyr wafted by...

    Thanks! I am glad that you like it. Shall let the poem sit a while because one can be deluded about whether something is a keeper or not.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Beth,

    You popped up while I wrote zephyr! Hello--and I do have some news about Graham since he wrote yesterday. Maybe that's why I dreamed a painting that looked like it could be one of his.

    He is quite well though too busy with Oscar’s Festival Café, his little restaurant. Nevertheless, he has just finished another "Child Beneath the Stars" painting (you can see the first one at Clive's artlog or at Graham's website), and it is quite lovely.

    Wish I had been able to meet him while I was away. Alas.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Make that "while asleep" up above!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Or somnigraphia? Or hypnologia?

    WV 'tommy', which I like.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Delightful story! I thought every writer keeps pencil and pad of paper at bedside for these attacks of dormigraphia (great word!), and every artist as well (I don't always). Oh, and those glasses too. I rarely catch mine and if I do it's in the middle of the night and then I'm awake for hours afterwards. How to catch those ephemeral moments of inspiration must be the eternal question for all creatives.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Lucy, think that "hypnologia" smacks of an authoritative word that might catch on.(I wonder it's already in the O. E. D. Maybe it's not made up...)

    marja-leena, I am afraid that I do not do what I should do quite often, and that includes having pen and paper ready when desired. Sometimes my bedroom is overrun with writing implements and heaps of paper, and other times there's hardly one to be found. Right now my bedroom is overrun with laundry. Much less pleasant.

    If some devoted soul would come and do my laundry, I am sure that I could keep up with pen and paper!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Yep. I am a morning person, and I do write and compose music in my sleep (note that I do not compose music in my waking life). I agree with Hannah that the lines I come up with asleep are not keepable, generally, though if I work at them, the poems are.
    In any case, I am glad no "person from Porlock" came and interrupted your sleep, dispelling the poem.

    ReplyDelete
  12. A woman's life is all persons from Porlock interrupting, so she'd better get used to it! Because she is married to one and gives birth to more... And of course she loves these "persons" (whereas Coleridge was not glad to see his person from Porlock), so she needs to treat them right.

    I do have lovely music sometimes as well in sleep. I never think it comes from me because what do I know about musical composition? Maybe one of my characters writes music. Or maybe the Angel from the Land of Sleep is composing!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Heh, heh - love this story, and the way you've written it! It made me smile reading it. I suppose 6am could, under some circumstances, be considered part of the previous night. Much too early, anyway, IMO. :-)

    Yes, and I the same experience as Hannah, but I also find that if I don't write them down they remain quite brilliant...unfortunately the only part of them I remember.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I have woken in the early hours in the past with music in my head. I then rush down to my piano (which does not look like a cello) and make that music as real as I can (sometimes cello music).
    It's a wonderful start to any day! Albeit, an early one.

    Love this blog posting too!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Clare,

    Very amusing!

    Perhaps if I don't get up and write them down, I can retain my sense of brilliance and feel quite satisfied!

    Paul,

    Glad you are not shaped like a cello. You appear to have quite an acceptable shape as is!

    It's rather sweet to think of people all over the world waking at the wrong hour and jumping up to write words or music or draw or do a bit of choreography (in the shape of a cello, perhaps) or leap about in dancer's joy. The Night Artists.

    ReplyDelete
  16. The term for actually physically writing things down in your sleep is "somniscription". Although I guess this is a little different. I've had dreams that I have written down in as much detail as possible that I quite liked when I looked back at them. Some of my very best ideas have come from dreams, probably because I frequently dream my way into people and places that I've never seen.

    ReplyDelete
  17. "Somniscription."

    I knew there had to be a word.

    Thank you, R!

    However, you are right, it's not quite the same. Semi-somniscription, perhaps.

    I often feel that I no longer dream because I am stretched a bit thin and sleep hard, but having woken up with poems twice in the past three nights, I suppose that cannot be true.

    Long ago I used to write down my dreams, particularly those wonderful ones in which one flies over a great, complex landscape. I remember impressive worlds, but also silly ones like a landscape with a series of suburban backyards, all with swimming pools--at one point I was about to dive into a pool when two ducks flew up and clipped the fabric of my shirt between their beaks and flew off with me in tow.

    ReplyDelete

Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.