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Dream Tragedies
William Henry Davies


Thou art not always kind, O sleep:
What awful secrets them dost keep
In store, and ofttimes make us know;
What hero has not fallen low
In sleep before a monster grim,
And whined for mercy unto him;
Knights, constables, and men-at-arms
Have quailed and whined in sleep's alarms.
Thou wert not kind last night to make
Me like a very coward shake,
Shake like a thin red-currant bush
Robbed of its fruit by a strong thrush.
I felt this earth did move; more slow,
And slower yet began to go;
And not a bird was heard to sing,
Men and great beasts were shivering;
All living things knew well that when
This earth stood still, destruction then
Would follow with a mighty crash.
'Twas then I broke that awful hush:
E'en as a mother, who does come
Running in haste back to her home,
And looks at once, and lo, the child
She left asleep is gone; and wild
She shrieks and loud, so did I break
With a mad cry that dream, and wake.

This poem is in the public domain.


William Henry Davies (1871-1940) was a Welsh poet who started out as a rounder but ended up a respected poet. Raised by grandparents after his father died and his mother remarried, William was inclined toward a life of adventure; he traveled by boat to North America repeatedly before losing a leg in attempting to jump a train. He eventually returned to England, wrote a book about his wandering years, paid and starved his way into becoming a published poet and, eventually, gained equal standing with such contemporaries as Yeats and Ezra Pound.




Post New Comment:
The ending has shades of John Keats: Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades Past the near meadows, over the still stream, Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deep In the next valley-glades: Was it a vision, or a waking dream? Fled is that music:?Do I wake or sleep?
Posted 09/18/2019 11:49 AM
...but in that sleep what dreams may come?
Posted 09/18/2019 08:24 AM
I dream a lot of nightmares. I like this poem!!!
Posted 09/18/2019 07:46 AM
Larry Schug:
Better a rounder than a square! Perfect poem after a fitful night of thunder, lightning, weird dreams and a panting dog.
Posted 09/18/2019 06:13 AM

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