‘We dream – it is good we are dreaming’: A Poem by Emily Dickinson

‘We dream—it is good we are dreaming—’ is a lesser-known Emily Dickinson poem which favours the world of dreams over the more painful reality of the waking world. Like many of Emily Dickinson’s greatest poems, the American Civil War may have fed into this vision of a life lived best in the protective arms of dreams, rather than the bloody horrors of reality.

‘We dream—it is good we are dreaming’ by Emily Dickinson

We dream—it is good we are dreaming—
It would hurt us—were we awake—
But since it is playing—kill us,
And we are playing—shriek—

What harm? Men die—externally—
It is a truth—of Blood—

Read more

‘I dream of you, to wake’: A Poem by Christina Rossetti

‘I dream of you, to wake’ is a sonnet by the Victorian poet Christina Rossetti (1830-94). Although not one of her most famous poems, it’s a marvellous sonnet: addressed to the speaker’s lover, and contrasting the wonderful, perfect dream world that sleep brings with the less perfect reality that we wake to (hence ‘I dream of you, to wake’). If only she could dream all the time, then things would be all right!

‘I dream of you, to wake’ by Christina Rossetti

I dream of you, to wake: would that I might
Dream of you and not wake but slumber on;
Nor find with dreams the dear companion gone,
As, Summer ended, Summer birds take flight.
In happy dreams I hold you full in night.
I blush again who waking look so wan;
Brighter than sunniest day that ever shone,
In happy dreams your smile makes day of night.

Read more

‘Greater Love’: A Poem by Wilfred Owen

Among all of the Great War poets Britain produced, Wilfred Owen (1893-1918) stands as the greatest. Like a poet he greatly admired, John Keats, he was dead at the age of 25 but in his short life he managed to find his own distinctive poetic voice and used it to write poems of great emotive power and technical skill. ‘Greater Love’ is a fine example of what makes Wilfred Owen England’s pre-eminent poet of the First World War. For Remembrance Day and the centenary of the Armistice, here is one of Owen’s most moving poems.

‘Greater Love’ by Wilfred Owen

Red lips are not so red
As the stained stones kissed by the English dead.
Kindness of wooed and wooer
Seems shame to their love pure.
O Love, your eyes lose lure
When I behold eyes blinded in my stead!

Read more

‘The Way through the Woods’: A Poem by Rudyard Kipling

Following yesterday’s tree-themed poem, today we share ‘The Way through the Woods’, one of the best-loved poems by Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936). Although he is not known for writing obscure poetry (some of his short stories are true head-scratchers, mind!), Kipling leaves the meaning of ‘The Way through the Woods’ somewhat ambiguous.

‘The Way through the Woods’ by Rudyard Kipling

They shut the road through the woods
Seventy years ago.
Weather and rain have undone it again,
And now you would never know
There was once a road through the woods
Before they planted the trees. 

Read more

‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’: A Poem by John Keats

‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty’: this, the words on John Keats’s Grecian urn proclaim, is all we know, and all we need to know. ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ is one of the most celebrated poetic achievements of the Romantic poet John Keats (1795-1821), so is perfect for our next stop on this poetry odyssey, Post A Poem A Day, which sees us sharing some of our favourite classic poems. And ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ is classic in more than one sense.

‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ by John Keats

Thou still unravish’d bride of quietness,
       Thou foster-child of silence and slow time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
       A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fring’d legend haunts about thy shape
       Of deities or mortals, or of both,
               In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?

Read more