Dream poems don’t normally do much for me, but I find this one by the American poet Hyam Plutzik (1911-1962) quite haunting, perhaps the more so for its tropes that seem familiar and yet, just as in a dream, I feel I never quite grasp: I suppose the gate referred to may be the gate of horn through which true dreams come, as opposed to the gate of ivory, but what is the hound of air, what are the ropes of shade?
The Dream About Our Master, William Shakespeare
This midnight dream whispered to me:
Be swift as a runner, take the lane
Into the green mystery
Beyond the farm and haystack at Stone.
You leave tomorrow, not to return.
Hands that were fastened in a vise,
A useless body, rooted feet,
While time like a bell thundered the loss,
Witnessed the closing of the gate.
Thus sleep and waking both betrayed.
I had one glimpse: In a close of shadow
There rose the form of a manor-house,
And in a corner a curtained window.
All was lost in a well of trees,
Yet I knew for certain this was the place.
If the hound of air, the ropes of shade,
And the gate between that is no gate,
Had not so held me and delayed
These cowardly limbs of bone and blood,
I would have met him as he lived.