Friday poetry this week is inspired by a strange dream I had last night. I dreamed I was sitting an exam about Thomas Hardy. I had to write an essay about him, and for some reason (in the dream it seemed like a stroke of genius), I’d called the essay “Too Big to Fail.” The pressure of the ticking clock and the muscles in my hand cramping around my ballpoint pen were vivid, but I was enthused about my subject, and preposterous analogies came thick and fast. When my alarm went off at 6:15am, I was just in the middle of a cunning allusion to Hopkins’ “Windhover”; somehow the gold gash in that poem was linked to the financial crisis and the fall of the dollar, which was in turn somehow linked to Thomas Hardy. I’ll never know whether my essay was as brilliant as it seemed in the dream (very unlikely), and as I never finished it I don’t know what the marker (whoever they might have been) would have given me. Nor do I know what a dream like this says about my state of mind (probably nothing complimentary), but I thought a Thomas Hardy poem about a dream would be apt today. I like this one because of the very odd meter.
A Dream or No
Why go to Saint-Juliot? What's Juliot to me?
I was but made fancy
By some necromancy
That much of my life claims the spot as its key.
Yes. I have had dreams of that place in the West,
And a maiden abiding
Thereat as in hiding;
Fair-eyed and white-shouldered, broad-browed and brown-tressed.
And of how, coastward bound on a night long ago,
There lonely I found her,
The sea-birds around her,
And other than nigh things uncaring to know.
So sweet her life there (in my thought has it seemed)
That quickly she drew me
To take her unto me,
And lodge her long years with me. Such have I dreamed.
But nought of that maid from Saint-Juliot I see;
Can she ever have been here,
And shed her life's sheen here,
The woman I thought a long housemate with me?
Does there even a place like Saint-Juliot exist?
Or a Vallency Valley
With stream and leafed alley,
Or Beeny, or Bos with its flounce flinging mist?