It’s about time to leaven these blog posts again, with a little light poetry. But writing limericks about dreams and dreaming is more difficult than you might think! I took a walk with a notebook in my pocket, and worked on rhymes and rhythms in my head (I hope I wasn’t doing it out loud!)—and scribbled down lines I thought were going somewhere clever, but then they turned out to be nothing but stray couplets without any dream scheme to come home to. Sigh. This is my best effort, for the time being:
A middle-school history teacher
dreamed of going where the kids couldn’t reach her:
joined in cosmic space walks,
took the lead in peace talks,
climbed K2 with a yeti-like creature…
Okay, so I made up the dreamer, and the dreams. But I’m playing with words and ideas here, while trying to remain resolutely silly—not so easy! The idea I’m making fun of is that dreams express our secret wishes—a theory suggested by serious people like Freud (who described the intricate mechanisms at work in the dreaming mind to simultaneously reveal and disguise our desires), and then turned into cartoons (where kids dream of mountains of candy…) and limericks by folks like me who don’t take the wish-fulfilling dream theory terribly seriously.
Sometimes I have beautiful, wish-fulfilling dreams—but rarely when I feel I really need them! When daily life is tough, and the increasing darkness, dampness, and chilliness of this season is getting to me, I often just dream of dark, damp, and cold. Where are those sweet dreams of Maui—full of warm, fragrant breezes, waves softly lapping the beaches, and whales playing just offshore? Oh well. At least I can imagine that my intrepid middle-school history teacher has a more pleasing dream life.
But, although dreams rarely delight us by fulfilling our “dreams” (wishes) in such an obvious way, there are a few bits of this limerick that are genuinely dream-like. Dreams love to play with words (as do I), and so it makes sense that someone as harried as a middle-school teacher is likely to dream about finding “space” and “peace.” Perhaps the K2 reference might suggest the common abbreviation “K-12” (kindergarten through 12th grade), which could imply that this teacher would prefer adventures with the younger kids (kindergarten through 2nd grade). A “yeti” might hint at the wistful phrase “and yet…” made famous by the Haiku poet Issa. Also, a history teacher might conceivably have dreams incorporating scenes from events with historical impact, like space walks, peace talks, and mountain climbs.
I admit, it’s a stretch. Really, I was just trying to get it to rhyme, and get the syllables to bounce in a of jaunty sort of way. If you feel inspired to try this yourself, please share your own dream limericks. I’m sure you can do better than mine!