A Guide to Dream Interpretation
The Poet's Dreams: Gwydion's Song 

The Poet's Dreams: Gwydion's Songs 

Dreams that define, dreams that add humor, dreams that awaken.


Gwydion was an ancient Celtic wizard who sang the trees of the forest into a sentient army that won the day against the mighty Brits at Cad Goddeu, what was known as the "battle of the trees". In those early days the words of the Wizard Poets held much power and transformational energy. A fragment of this magical story finds its way into the book The Archipelago of Dreams: The Island of the Dream Healer.





In an attempt to capture as much of the mystery of dreams as possible, I've added both Art and Poetry to speak to that for which there are no words. In these next few words can be found visions every bit as enlightening as those of the painter and sculptor.


Dreams: Are "The Royal Road to the Soul", says Thomas Moore, American author and psychotherapist. Moore goes on to say that sometimes the route to the soul is uneasy, but perhaps it is this road that must be taken, through that emotion that we don't want to go through, through the understandings of self that we rather not confront that leads us to the soul and its most satisfying and creative work.


Some dreams mirror what it is that we long for—what is void­— in our waking lives:


The Land Of Dreams


Awake, awake my little Boy!

Thou wast thy Mother's only joy:

Why dost thou weep in thy gentle sleep?

Awake! thy Father does thee keep.


"O, what land is the Land of Dreams?

What are its mountains, and what are its streams?

O Father, I saw my Mother there,

Among the lillies by waters fair.


Among the lambs clothed in white

She walked with her Thomas in sweet delight.

I wept for joy, like a dove I mourn—

O when shall I return again?"


Dear child, I also by pleasant streams

Have wandered all night in the Land of Dreams;

But though calm and warm the waters wide,

I could not get to the other side.


"Father, O Father, what do we here,

In this land of unbelief and fear?

The Land of Dreams is better far

Above the light of the Morning Star."


                                       -William Blake



While other dreams give glimpses into the possibilities of our lives:


                "In happy hours, when the imagination wakes like a wind at midnight, and the soul trembles in all its leaves, it is a joy to be uplifted on its wings, and listen to the prophetic voices in the air that call us onward."



The following was writtrn by Edgar Allan Poe when he was only 18. Though it is said not to be a mature rendition of Poe's work Zireaux said of him in general, "Freedom through form, fancy as precision, music as mathematical formula, mutation through logic, a brilliantly bridled madness — this is Poe."



Dreams? by?Edgar Allan Poe

Oh! that my young life were a lasting dream!?My spirit not awak’ning, till the beam?Of an Eternity should bring the morrow.?Yes! tho’ that long dream were of hopeless sorrow.?‘Twere better than the cold reality?Of waking life, to him whose heart must be,?And hath been still, upon the lovely earth,?A chaos of deep passion, from his birth.?But should it be — that dream eternally?Continuing — as dreams have been to me?In my young boyhood — should it thus be giv’n?‘Twere folly still to hope for higher Heav’n.?For I have revell’d when the sun was bright?In the summer sky, in dreams of living light.?And loveliness, — have left my very heart?In climes of my imaginings apart?From mine own home, with beings that have been?Of mine own thought — what more could I have seen?

‘Twas once — and only once — and the wild hour?From my remembrance shall not pass — some pow’r?Or spell had bound me — ‘twas the chilly wind?Came o’er me in the night, and left behind?Its image on my spirit — or the moon?Shone on my slumbers in her lofty noon?Too coldly — or the stars — howe’er it was?That dream was as that night-wind — let it pass.?I have been happy, tho’ in a dream.?I have been happy — and I love the theme:?Dreams! in their vivid colouring of life?As in that fleeting, shadowy, misty strife?Of semblance with reality which brings?To the delirious eye, more lovely things?Of Paradise and Love — and all our own!?Than young Hope in his sunniest hour hath known.



In the following dream Poe shares his feelings about not being able to change anything in life, but there's one repeated line that stands out for me and redefines the experience of life.


 A Dream within a Dream


Take this kiss upon the brow!

And, in parting from you now,

Thus much let me avow

You are not wrong, who deem

That my days have been a dream;

Yet if hope has flown away

In a night, or in a day,

In a vision, or in none,

Is it therefore the less gone?

All that we see or seem

Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar ?of a surf-tormented shore, ?And I hold within my hand ?Grains of the golden sand, how few! Yet how they creep Through my fingers to the deep, ?While I weep - while I weep! ?O God! can I not grasp ?Them with a tighter clasp? ?O God! can I not save One from the pitiless wave? ?

Is all that we see or seem ?But a dream within a dream?

                                                                         —Edgar Allen Poe



Continuing the theme of life being a dream within a dream is this one from Coleridge:


"What if you slept?
And what if,
In your sleep
You dreamed?
And what if,
In your dream,
You went to Heaven
And there plucked
A strange and
Beautiful flower?
And what if,
When you awoke,
You had the flower
In your hand?
Ah, what then?"

–Samuel Taylor Coleridge


This one seems to speak to the value of dreams in ones life:



All night

the dark buds of dreams




In the center

of every petal

is a letter,

and you imagine


if you could only remember

and string them all together

they would spell the answer.

It's a long night,


And not an easy one—

You have so many branches,

and there are diversions—

birds that come and go,


the black fox that lies down

to sleep beneath you,

the moon staring

with her bone-white eye.


Finally you have spent

all the energy you can

and you drag from the ground

the muddy skirt of your roots


and leap awake

with two or three syllables

like water in your mouth

and a sense


of loss—a memory

not yet of a word,

certainly not yet the answer—

only how it feels


when deep in the tree

all the locks click open,

and the fire surges through the wood,

and the blossoms blossom.

                                  —Mary Oliver- Dream Work,

                                  Atlantic Monthly Press, N.Y. (1986)


While this one speaks to the mystery of life:



As I wake worlds collide melting into one another

Reality gives way to reality

One narrative ends beginning another


Sleeping dreams left behind giving way to waking dreams

Real giving in to real

The story in another form


While waking I am not sure where I am 

Living within and between worlds

The arc the same book


As yet unfocused and unsure I am awake yet

Is it all just one?

Is it the same story?


When awake how will I know when I’m awake?

Is this real or that?

Can I turn the page? 

                          –by R.J. Cole (2016)




I did not know that I was asleep
For it all looked so real felt so real smelled and tasted so real
I wrestled made love bashed my thumb again with a very real and very hard hammer
Watched people walk laugh argue and play
It all seemed just like any other day
Then it happened I walked through the door woke up and everything changed


The bed I found myself in was not the bed I had fallen asleep in


And I could not get back to the sleep
What was real was only a dream
What was dream was only a darkened corner of what was real
Consciousness after all was not such a very big deal
The once and sleeping dark of mere being now a light of the everywhere



Yes, I know I left out all the punctuation but I don't dream with punctuation.


                                                           –R.J. Cole






th-2.jpgho are you?


My name is Bob.

That’s your name, but who are you?

I’m a Psychologist.

That’s what you do, but who are you?

Ahh, I see what you want. I am a constellation of things a son, a, husband, a father, a friend, a soldier, a scholar, a writer, an actor, and a singer.

Yes you have done all those things, but who are you?

And I was silent.

What is life?

Why, it’s a journey!

To where are you going on this journey?

Huh, well I don’t really know.

What’s the point of your life?

It’s to learn things so that you can make a living and take care of yourself and your family and to make a positive difference to others.

Those are all laudable doing of things, but what’s the point of life?

If not that, then I guess I don’t know.

When you dance what is the point of dancing, is it not to just dance, is not the point of dancing, dancing? When you sing, is not the point of singing, singing?

So what is the point of life?


So who are you?

Quietly I smiled.


th-2.jpgho are you?


My name is Bob.

That’s your name, but who are you?

I’m a Psychologist.

That’s what you do, but who are you?

Ahh, I see what you want. I am a constellation of things a son, a, husband, a father, a friend, a soldier, a scholar, a writer, an actor, and a singer.

Yes you have done all those things, but who are you?

And I was silent.

What is life?

Why, it’s a journey!

To where are you going on this journey?

Huh, well I don’t really know.

What’s the point of your life?

It’s to learn things so that you can make a living and take care of yourself and your family and to make a positive difference to others.

Those are all laudable doing of things, but what’s the point of life?

If not that, then I guess I don’t know.

When you dance what is the point of dancing, is it not to just dance, is not the point of dancing, dancing? When you sing, is not the point of singing, singing?

So what is the point of life?


So who are you?

Quietly I smiled.

                 -R.J. Cole (2017)


From a dream that kept repeating “Who are You?”, nothing more, just a disembodied voice repeating “who are you?”



"A man goes to sleep in the town

where he has always lived, and he dreams he's living

in another town.


In the dream, he doesn't remember

the town he's sleeping in. He believes

the reality of the dream town.


The world is that kind of sleep.


The dust of many crumbled cities

settles over us like a forgetful doze,

but we are older than those cities.


We began as a mineral. We emerged into plant life

and into the animal state, and then into being human,

and always we have forgotten our former states,

except in early spring when we slightly recall

being green again.

That's how a young person turns

toward a teacher. That's how a baby leans

toward the breast, without knowing the secret

of its desire, yet turning instinctively.


Humankind is being led along an evolving course,

through this migration of intelligences,

and though we seem to be sleeping,

there is an inner wakefulness

that directs the dream,


and that will eventually startle us back

to the truth of who we are."






In the early dawn of happiness ?you gave me three kisses ?so that I would wake up? to this moment of love

I tried to remember in my heart ?what I'd dreamt about ?during the night? before I became aware ?of this moving ?of life

I found my dreams ?but the moon took me away? It lifted me up to the firmament ?and suspended me there? I saw how my heart had fallen? on your path ?singing a song

Between my love and my heart? things were happening which? slowly, slowly ?made me recall everything

You amuse me with your touch? although I can't see your hands.? You have kissed me with tenderness? although I haven't seen your lips ?You are hidden from me.

But it is you who keeps me alive

Perhaps the time will come? when you will tire of kisses? I shall be happy ?even for insults from you? I only ask that you ?keep some attention on me. 

                                         The Love Poems of Rumi by? Deepak Chopra (Editor)



The next poem begins by comparing the act of dreaming with the act of composing poetry:


"A summer crisp with shining woods.

And I too dream'd, until at last

Across my fancy, brooding warm,

The reflex of a legend past,

And loosely settled into form."




"The Day-Dream emphasizes the pleasure in being able to return to a sleep state and avoid reality."



Part 1 of 9 parts


The Dream


Our life is twofold; Sleep hath its own world,

A boundary between the things misnamed

Death and existence: Sleep hath its own world,

And a wide realm of wild reality,

And dreams in their development have breath,

And tears, and tortures, and the touch of joy;

They leave a weight upon our waking thoughts,

They take a weight from off waking toils,

They do divide our being; they become

A portion of ourselves as of our time,

And look like heralds of eternity;

They pass like spirits of the past—they speak

Like sibyls of the future; they have power—

The tyranny of pleasure and of pain;

They make us what we were not—what they will,

And shake us with the vision that's gone by,

The dread of vanished shadows—Are they so?

Is not the past all shadow?—What are they?

Creations of the mind?—The mind can make

Substances, and people planets of its own

With beings brighter than have been, and give

A breath to forms which can outlive all flesh.

I would recall a vision which I dreamed

Perchance in sleep—for in itself a thought,

A slumbering thought, is capable of years,

And curdles a long life into one hour.


                                                  -Lord Byron


To read the other eight parts, click on this link: http://famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/lord_byron/poems/5969



Crazy Dream


Last night I had a crazy dream

That I was teachin' school.

My teachers had turned into kids,

And I laid down the rules.


I gave 'em a hundred hist'ry books

To memorize each night,

And made 'em read 'em on their heads

Without turnin' on the light.


I sent 'em on a field trip

To the outskirts of Mongolia,

And gave 'em an overnight assignment

To grow a twenty-foot purple magnolia.


I asked 'em how many awful grades

Can cause how many tears?

And if they got one answer wrong,

I just hung 'em up by their ears.


And when they talked or laughed in class,

I pinched 'em 'til they cried

Louder and louder--'til I woke up

Feelin' very satisfied.


                 –Shel Silverstein  (Where The Sidewalk Ends, Pg. 168)




Dream'd in a Dream.


I DREAM'D in a dream, I saw a city invincible to the attacks of the whole of the rest of the earth;


I dream'd that was the new City of Friends;

Nothing was greater there than the quality of robust love—it led the rest;

It was seen every hour in the actions of the men of that city,

And in all their looks and words.

                          -Walt Whitman 1819-1892



The Dream


Not long ago, in a charming dream,

I saw myself -- a king with crown's treasure;

I was in love with you, it seemed,

And heart was beating with a pleasure.

I sang my passion's song by your enchanting knees.

Why, dreams, you didn't prolong my happiness forever?

But gods deprived me not of whole their favor:

I only lost the kingdom of my dreams.

                                              -Aleksandr Pushkin




                                                 Dreams of Death

Yet, so many poems about dreams are dreams about death. But these poems seem to also give insight about the connection to each other that death brings to each of us. Dreaming has even been likened to a kind of death where the soul flies to where the body cannot go.

As a symbol in a dream, death is often the herald of something coming to an end so that something new can be born.


The Dream-Follower


A dream of mine flew over the mead

To the halls where my old Love reigns;

And it drew me on to follow its lead:

And I stood at her window-panes;


And I saw but a thing of flesh and bone

Speeding on to its cleft in the clay;

And my dream was scared, and expired on a moan,

And I whitely hastened away.

                                           -Thomas Hardy


A Dream


Of him I love day and night, I dreamed I heard he was dead;

And I dreamed I went where they had buried him I love--but he was not in that place;

And I dreamed I wandered, searching among burial-places, to find him;

And I found that every place was a burial-place;

The houses full of life were equally full of death, (this house is now;)

The streets, the shipping, the places of amusement, the Chicago, Boston,

Philadelphia, the Mannahatta, were as full of the dead as of the living,

And fuller, O vastly fuller, of the dead than of the living.

--And what I dreamed I will henceforth tell to every person and age,

And I stand henceforth bound to what I dreamed;

And now I am willing to disregard burial-places, and dispense with them;

And if the memorials of the dead were put up indifferently everywhere, even in the room where I eat or sleep, I should be satisfied;

And if the corpse of any one I love, or if my own corpse, be duly rendered to powder, and poured in the sea, I shall be satisfied;

Or if it be distributed to the winds, I shall be satisfied.?

                                                                 -Walt Whitman






“Come Fairies, take me out of this dull world, for I would ride with you upon the wind and dance upon the mountains like a flame!”


–William Butler Yeats

Meditation Walk

On my meditation walks I am often moved by the life going on about me– boys with hockey sticks battling in the streets at dusk, flocks of screeching Crows nesting in trees, the smile of the crescent moon with the brightly seductive Venus off her bow. And on a warm night there's crickets and barking dogs, but on a cold and crisp one there's nothing but silence and the sound of my own footsteps. Sometimes a breeze whips through the branches and rustles the leaves and I hear the raucous laughter of a dinner party just seen through the picture window of the house across the street.


And the world seems right.


But on other nights my mind is disturbed with its thoughts that whirl like a demented vortex and I hear nothing but my own voice. It’s a boring voice droning on and on about inane this’s and that’s and burying the peace of the night in rubble.


And nothing in the world seems right.


I long for the magic I’ve so often felt on so many earlier sojourns through the dark, but on this night it’s not to be. This is when I cry out to the dark denizens of the otherworld, “Come oh magic creatures of the imaginal and entertain me. Bring to me your mystery, your awe, your wonder, and your hidden treasure– make it better than it is.”


That night’s dreams brought me headstones and skulls, darkness and gray empty fields– a reflection of the mood carried back from the earlier journey. And then I ran across the poem by Yeats and I thought, ‘It’s not the fairies of the land he is calling to, but those of the inner soul who are entreated to crawl out from the rubbish and dance with me once again’. And I remember once again that it is I, it is I who can summon the magic from within.


And the world seems right again.

                                                                   –RJ Cole




High Dream

SWAYED upon the gaudy stern

The butt-end of a steering-oar,

And saw wherever I could turn

A crown upon the shore.


And though I would have hushed the crowd,

There was no mother's son but said,

'What is the figure in a shroud

Upon a gaudy bed?'


And after running at the brim

Cried out upon that thing beneath

--It had such dignity of limb--

By the sweet name of Death.


Though I'd my finger on my lip,

What could I but take up the song?

And running crowd and gaudy ship

Cried out the whole night long,


Crying amid the glittering sea,

Naming it with ecstatic breath,

Because it had such dignity,

By the sweet name of Death.


                        –W. B. Yeats (1865-1939)


The Dream


The glen of Daghestan, at noon, was hot and gleaming;

I lay on sand with lead sent to my heart,

My deadly wound was deep and easily steaming;

And, drop by drop, was oozing out blood.


I lay on sand of this small glen, alone;

High cliffs surrounded my motionless head.

The sun was scorching their yellow stone

And scorching me; but I was sleeping, dead.


And I daydreamed of homeland and evening:

A feast was glittering with celebrating lights;

Young women, garlanded with flowers, were sitting,

With gaily talk about me all night.


But one of them sat there, sunk in musing,

Not taking part in this light-hearted talk,

Her youthful soul, the world of real loosing,

In jungles of dreams sorrowfully walked.


She dreamed of Daghestan: the glen was hot and gleaming --

And someone, familiar, lay on the ground, dead,

The fatefull wound was black and easily steaming,

And cooling blood was spreading on the sand.

                                                  -Mikhail Lermont © Copyright, 1996

                                      Translated from Russian by Yevgeny Bonver,    

                                      September 1995


A Psalm of Life

Tell me not in mournful numbers,

"Life is but an empty dream!"

For the soul is dead that slumbers,


And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest! ?And the

grave is not its goal; ?Dust thou art,

to dust returnest, ?Was not spoken of the soul.

















A New Awareness

An old man tired and at the end of a very long day lay his head upon a rock and soon fell fast asleep.


In his sleep the Other came to him and hovered quietly until noticed.


“Who are you?” the man asked.


“Who are you?” Was the reply in turn.


“Awake I am known as Robert. And you?”


“I am the same as you. In sleep I am what I am when awake.”


“What is your purpose here?” asked the old man.


“What is your purpose?” Asked the Other.


“I’m not sure. What is my purpose? I’ve searched my life over to find my purpose. Are you here to show me?”


“It’s not about searching for purpose, in that you cannot find it. Your purpose will find you. When it does you’ll be it.”


“How will I know when it’s found me?” asked the old man.


“When you’re being it.”


And he woke up.


–R.J. Cole (6/2017)