Poetry and Dreams


By Laura Riding, 1928.


I do not believe there is any more relation between poem-making and dream-making than between poem-making and child-making. The making of poems, dreams and children is difficult to explain because they all somehow happen and go on until the poem comes to an end and the sleeper wakes up and the child comes out into the air. As for children, there are so many other ways of looking at the matter that poetry is generally not asked to provide a creative parallel. As for dreams, they are the dregs of the mind, anxious to elevate themselves by flattering comparisons. As for poems, they are frequently (more often than not) concocted in the dregs of the mind and therefore happy in understanding of mutual support between themselves and dreams.

The only real resemblance between poetry and dreams is that they are both on the other side of waking on opposite sides. Waking is the mind in its mediocrity. Mediocrity is of such large extent that it pushes off into obscurity the mental degree beyond mediocrity, in a direction away from sleep. The mental degree before mediocrity, toward sleep, is the dream. So the stage before the lowest degree of mediocrity and the stage beyond the highest degree of mediocrity are bracketed together by mediocrity because they are both outside mediocrity the mind at its canniest intelligence and the mind at its canniest imbecility.