On Right Dreams Rightly Writ

Dreams Without Sequel, Stories Unwrit

If all the dreams we ever dreamed could all be written down

On living tablets made of lives, and if they then were found

To constitute reality, pray how then would we fit

Our other lives into these stories that our dreams have writ.

A fieldman might a lord become, a boy a Viking brave,

A modest girl a princess, or a clergyman a knave;

But most of us would settle for a treasured line or two

That hearts have written on our dreams, to shape these lives anew.


Consider then, uncertainly, what consequence thereof

With certainty would follow if the title, wealth or love

A heart yearns for were realized, and no more were the dreams

Mere unrequited longings, as imagination seems.

Then could we face the windmill, with undaunted courage stand

And trace a new path winding over vague uncharted land?

Or would it be impossible, this dream, and would we choose

To pull back, be safe, turn away—for there’s too much to lose?


Ten thousand days, a thousand weeks, one life accumulates

And has its place, its time, its home, and all of it relates

In habit, comfort, way of thought, to all we are and know;

But still our dreams come, and they ask: Have you yet room to grow?

Do you see purple mountains shining on the path you trod,

And is your spirit wedded to a vision or the sod?

Think well, the dream advises us, for if the bridge you burn

Your feet an unfamiliar road must find—and there is no return.


Yet more disquieting by far than any conscious choice

Are new paths thrust upon us, in which we had no voice;

The old familiar path is split, and all is cast asunder

In which we formerly took faith, compelling one to wonder:

Would it not have better been, the passage all these years,

If I had lived up to my dreams and shed a lot less tears—

Kept clear those purple mountains, like the vision of my dreams,

And writ with crystal clarity the story as it seems…


William D. Coffey, 1988


*          *          *


Excerpt from the epic poem

Ten Thousand Million Years

by Moshe Hammed and Martha Stone     ca. 1920


The poet dreams,

And in his dreaming sees the mind’s ideal;

The future sees the sequel and the dream becomes the real;

For nothing makes fulfillment come to learned prophet’s will

More sure than efforts made by Man, his prophesies to fill.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *