Wednesday, 13 May 2009

June Dreams

In her sleep, she dreams
And in her dream, she sleeps.
And in this sleep, she dreams,
She dreams that she is waking,
But in the mirror of her mind
She sees herself still fast asleep.
'Tis but a dream within a dream
In which she opens out her eyes
Feels the world beneath her feet
And shivers with delight.


Leighton, "Flaming June" (1895)

The above can be considered as a loose translation of the following limerick I wrote as a kid, except in this it's a man who's dreaming in a dream. It was the only poem I ever wrote in a foreign language and also the only poem I wrote that I can remember which is the reason why it's here. One day hopefully I'll unearth where all the other poems I wrote as a child went to, but until then I'll just imagine that they were fantastic

"homme"=man, "rêve"=dream, "se lever"=wake up, "dans" = inside... you get the gist!

Il y avait un homme qui a rêvé
Qu'il était en train de se lever
Mais il a pens
é que c'était
rêve qui était
rêve dans un rêve qu'il rêvait.

—okei (1994)

          Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)     

And finally for a wake-up call!!!
A poem I've loved ever since I discovered it in a book of quotations.

         "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.

    Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
        Is our destined end or way ;
    But to act, that each to-morrow
        Find us farther than to-day.

    Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
        And our hearts, though stout and brave,
    Still, like muffled drums, are beating
        Funeral marches to the grave.

    In the world's broad field of battle,
        In the bivouac of Life,
    Be not like dumb, driven cattle !
        Be a hero in the strife !

    Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant !
        Let the dead Past bury its dead !
    Act,— act in the living Present !
        Heart within, and God o'erhead !

    Lives of great men all remind us
        We can make our lives sublime,
    And, departing, leave behind us
        Footprints on the sands of time ;

    Footprints, that perhaps another,
        Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
    A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
        Seeing, shall take heart again.

    Let us, then, be up and doing,
        With a heart for any fate ;
    Still achieving, still pursuing,
        Learn to labor and to wait.

—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1838)


  1. I'm not quite sure how that works - to dream whilst dreaming? But the concept is beautiful, and so is the poem. I loved it, really.

    Ah, French. you'd get along very well with Dar. I took some French as a third language at the University, but wished that it had went longer than 3 semesters. I love the language... so complexly beautiful! To write artistically with it... you must be tres bien! (I'm not even sure if that was correct... *rolling the eyes*)

    You're really one cool mathematician, okei....

  2. psalm got me confused. i think maybe because my english isn't very good? but the french poem was great. sometimes things like that happen. awake in the dream, dream about sleeping. . .

    you're more than mathematician, sir ;)

  3. Psalms is a section in the Bible of short verses of wisdom. And also the poem says not to misunderstand religious teachings as telling us to live this life for the hereafter, or why would we have been put here, we must live it for itself.

    Shahrizat, tu es très gentille, ma chère amie. (accents are a pain, I have to copy paste them from elsewhere when I'm not using a mac).

  4. well, accent not a pain at all on cellphone :p

  5. I can never load up the Multiply site on my cellphone... that's probably a good thing though because mobile phone internet is so SLOW.

  6. June dreams, eh? It's like standing between two mirrors and seeing tinier and tinier images reflected back.

  7. That's a really good image!! It's funny, I'd had the same thought about mirrors but without the person in between observing just two mirrors looking at each other and thought to myself that if they were perfect mirrors then they'd see absolutely nothing, just empty space.

  8. *Confused*

    Is it something to do with reincarnations?!?!?

  9. I hadn't thought of that, but it is left for the reader to interpret and explain to me what it means. If I knew what it meant, I wouldn't have written it, lol.

    The idea is a simple one though. In your dream, you are in a house by the sea... you walk out onto the balcony and leave the hub-bub of the people behind you and sit down beside the flower pot and fall asleep, and suddenly you are somewhere else entirely in a dream within a dream, back inside the room with all those people and the same thing could in theory happen again (...(...(..).)...) a nested dream. Re-incarnation might be like this, or it might be like (......)..(........).(.....)....(............) or maybe it's a much more complicated concept, or maybe it doesn't exist at all. Who knows?

  10. "If you knew, you wouldn't have written it" LOL!

    That's a good one!

    Passing your tangled, vague thoughts on to others and keeping answers within :)

    Or, is that what is called Thinking Aloud?!?!

    I like how you tried to 'figure' it out! Worthy of a mathematician :)

    When you solve the equation you begin with the innermost bracket, right?

  11. Often you only work out what things mean after writing, don't you find? And then I could give the surface meaning, but then you the reader wouldn't come up with cool ideas like re-incarnation. So actually, just because I write it doesn't mean I know the answers, the answers are often waiting to be discovered, uncovered!!

    But for the surface meaning in more detail, for sure you work the brackets from the inside, but they're not mathematical, more like beginnings and endings of dreams (or in the case of re-incarnation, life?!).

    A Symbolic Representation

    In her sleep, she dreams

    And in her dream, she sleeps.

    And in this sleep, she dreams, [J is June dreaming]

    She dreams that she is waking
    [J just woken up from the inner dream]

    But in the mirror of her mind
    She sees herself still fast asleep
    [Her higher self S knows that she is really still asleep]

    'Tis but a dream within a dream
    [Her highest objective self O, or us the reader, sees that J is in fact in a dream within a dream.

    So how many times do you have to wake up before you're really awake? June's woken up once, but she's got two to go. Can we be sure that O won't need waking up one day? At what point can we "stop calculating and just be" ? use the mathematical analogy, lol.

  12. My brain konked off just now!

    I'm reminded of the horrible experience in my High School Board exams. I wasn't that poor at maths (higher maths, as they called what we science students had to study!). But somehow on that fateful exam day...armed with enthusiasm and confidence to do well, I started tackling sums with an intention of scoring full marks. Till this day I don't know when, where, how or why I lost track and got stuck with one problem (geometry, I guess)...and lost all sense of time!

    I came to only when last half hour was announced...and I had whole paper to solve. Panic Moment!!! I really don't want to recall what happened afterwards...except that I cried and cried and cried at home fearing I'd fail...I didn't but scored low marks and that haunts me everytime I see MATHS...

    Is there any cure???

    PS: I gave up solving dream equation midway...I would rather pull sheet over my head and lose a dreamworld, LOL!!!

  13. Well, picadoress, almost exactly the same thing happened to me (apart from the crying) on a very important special exam just before I went to university. I was trying to get full marks, but each question I tried I got stuck on and I ended up jumping from question to question each time not getting anywhere. It was a pretty shattering experience and I'm not sure if I ever really got over it. It killed off my competitive nature though, because now I don't feel these things matter so much. But it also dented my confidence for a while; it's that fear of failure as you said. But one day I feel I should be able to look back on it as a good thing. What is the cure? It reminds me of your question about bouncing back... perhaps a piece of paper once crumpled is in danger of crumpling again and along the same creases, so I guess the best we can do is to uncrumple it, flatten it out, be aware of the creases and remember that it's not the smoothness of the paper that matters but the stuff that is written on it.

    I've edited the symbolic representation now, so it should be much clearer... as Shahrizat pointed out to me, I was trying to use [*] for html codes when of course it should be <*>; I'm not sure how I managed to forget something like that which I've known for so long. And it's nothing to do with mathematics; as I said earlier, the brackets (...) are the containers containing the dream....

  14. "it's not the smoothness of the paper that matters but the stuff that is written on it."

    Great thoughts!

    Totally consistent with your "Shape of Parantha" sentiments, lol.

    We were raised aim for smoothness as well as content...Speed and Accuracy. That can be pretty stressful at times!

    They said anyone can make a parantha...but only skilled/experts would get it right-shaped [all other factors (read: Stuffing/Stuff) remaining same, but of course!].

    Are you a Teacher, okei? If yes, then I'm sure your students must love you! Really, I mean it!!!

  15. I just learnt that you've celebrated your Birthday recently!

    Please accept my Heartiest Birthday Wishes (belated) for a Bright Future and Meaningful Life *Cheers*

    btw, when was the D-day, er...I mean the B-Day?

  16. Oh no! You misunderstand me! Learning an art or becoming accomplished in some field (however trivial) is not same as forfeiting your rights to disagree with parents....We too were allowed to air our views freely, how ever contradictory they might be. That's how we learn best...By listening patiently! When we are immature we think we know all...and how vigorously we put forth our opinions.

    If you aren't yet, then you will one day be a good teacher....if you so wish, of course :)

    Multiply has a calender too?!?!? Its more caring than Yahoo, lol.

  17. I think we were raised with quite similar beliefs, but also to think and work things out for ourselves, so to some extent what we think and do is our own and not so tightly linked to how we were raised. I take responsibility for my own beliefs! (as I know you do for yours)

    I have "perfectionist tendencies" in some areas too; it's like a taking pride in what you do, having a perfect image and then making the content live up to the image. Maxfield Parrish, some of whose art I put up in my Wallpapers & Posters section, spent many days just making the paper on which he would draw using some elaborate method which he devised himself. What a waste it would be for a great painter to work with poor materials!

    The act of trying to live up to ideals and the satisfaction in doing so are both to be encouraged and to be praised though the ideals themselves may sometimes seem subjective. But it is also these same "perfectionist tendencies" that let us both down in those maths exams. With a bit of humility, setting the bar a little lower, we would have done a lot better and there wouldn't have been an ego grape dangling there to be crushed by the tyranny of those heartless geometry problems!

    So in conclusion, "balance in all things". I think I'd say it's the act of smoothing out the paper as well as the content that matters, the objective striving for perfection and to make what we can, not the subjective attainment of perfection which will only lead to disappointment when we fail, or discourage us from even trying if we fear failure. So we must "put down" the burden of subjective expectation, at least as often as we can (because the longer we carry it the heavier it gets!) and replace it with objective expectation because the objective can carry any burden and can dissolve all troubles. So, to be confident in the specialness of today, and to just be, because to truly be entails wisdom, love and perfection.

    Does that make no sense at all, or seem inherently contradictory? Perhaps, but I believe there's at least a grain of truth in it, and this is another example of something which though I've written it myself, I can't claim to really understand. The understanding can only come through "living practice".

    Ok, that's ended up almost being a blog in itself, lol. It follows a train of thought that began on Jach's pages with you, a discussion also with taogirl, another blog by taogirl, and also a question I asked recently on Y!A.

    Now, if only I could live by it!

    Sorry for the length of that!! Comments welcome...

  18. One learns as one grows up...As youngsters I guess most of us strive for perfection and dream of not only achieving them but also changing the world.

    Life is the most unrelenting teacher and throws many things out mercilessly from our repertoire...

    I'm writing this without going through the links....I'll study them at leisure!

    We learn how much importance to give to what, when, how and order to maintain the balance...between our capacity and well-being!

    Don't be sorry for the length...All thoughts should find expression, unhindered!

  19. beautiful poem, jaminto.

    You know that when we dream that we are dreaming it is because we are in a REM but part of us is trying to wake up. REM lasts for a very short time. But there is a point where our bodies are paralyzed and we can not wake. So we dream that we have wakened...

    Once I dreamed that I woke up and got ready fro work only to wake later and realize I was late!!!!! lol ;-)

  20. Param, "Balance between capacity and well-being". Nice!!

    Cyn, I had that frozen thing happen too a few months back!

  21. Just to report that it's definitely possible to wake up from a dream and still be dreaming, because it happened to me twice in the last week!! More precisely, I had the experience of .....dreaming......).....), where ) means waking up, and not (..(.....dreaming......).....) as would be logical. There's nothing logical about seems possible to wake up multiple times without ever falling asleep in between!!!

    For more on dreams, check out Cyn's very cool blog

  22. Try googling hypnogagic states...

    I hope I spelled it correctly.

  23. These are my favorite lines.

    I suppose I've heard this somewhere ... in some life ... it stirs a memory or being so profound , still ... perhaps ... it was a dream .


    I've had many dreams within dreams where I wake and find myself sleeping ... and witness the dream I am keeping ... tucked away ... so far away ... there.

    thank you for this

  24. Perhaps you have heard it before... it's quite a well-loved poem! I liked the first couple of lines... that's what drew me to it, and then I loved the rest also.

    That's cool that you've had the dream in a dream thing yourself also!!

  25. "Tales of Mystery and Imagination" - Edgar Allan Poe"
    (Narration: Orson Welles. Music: Alan Parsons Project)

    For my own part, I have never had a thought
    Which I could not set down in words
    With even more distinctness than that which I conceived it.
    There is however a class of fancies of exquisite delicacy
    Which are not thoughts and to which as yet
    I have found it absolutely impossible to adapt to language.
    These fancies arise in the soul,
    Alas how rarely, only at epochs
    Of most intense tranquillity
    When the bodily and mental health are in perfection.
    And at those mere points of time
    When the confines of the waking world
    Blend with the world of dreams.
    And so I captured this fancy
    Where all that we see or seem
    Is but a dream within a dream.

  26. (((((((((((((((((((((Jaminto))))))))))))))))

  27. Your poem is remarkable & I am blown away!
    You were a child when you wrote this?
    You must start writing again!
    One of the best I have read in a long time!
    The poem by Longfellow I learned in the 10th grade & to this day remember every line. it is one of my favs also!

  28. The French version I wrote as a child... the English "loose translation" I wrote recently. :^)

  29. I hope you find your past poetry & write more, you are very talented!

  30. Yes, you are too kind, Lilith!! :^) Hopefully I'll find it one day when I sort through old stuff, and I hope to be inspired to write more in the meantime... but I can only write very rarely, when inspired in some way.

  31. Thanks to one and all! :^)

    June has woken up now!!!

  32. I have to thank the spammer for unwittingly reminding me of this. Since I posted it, I found out that Edgar Allen Poe actually wrote a poem called "Dream within a Dream"!!!

    A Dream Within A Dream (Edgar Allan Poe)

    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?

    And here is another poem by him, also on the dream-theme, which I'm still struggling to understand.

    A Dream (Edgar Allan Poe)

    In visions of the dark night
    I have dreamed of joy departed-
    But a waking dream of life and light
    Hath left me broken-hearted.

    Ah! what is not a dream by day
    To him whose eyes are cast
    On things around him with a ray
    Turned back upon the past?

    That holy dream- that holy dream,
    While all the world were chiding,
    Hath cheered me as a lovely beam
    A lonely spirit guiding.

    What though that light, thro' storm and night,
    So trembled from afar-
    What could there be more purely bright
    In Truth's day-star?