Daily Archives: November 29, 2015

“Our Birth is But a Sleep and a Forgetting”

WHEN our thick brains get all heated up worrying about life’s complexities, that’s often  the best time to kick off our shoes, and give it a rest.

Faced with a critical decision, or stuck on a complex problem, dream researchers have discovered, sleeping or napping on them often led to a right solution.

“In a Wonderland they lie, Dreaming as the days go by, Dreaming as the summers die,” Lewis Carroll wrote of children: “Ever drifting down the stream— Lingering in the golden gleam — Life, what is it but a dream?”

As adults the notes of a song, the smell of burning leaves, the babbling of a mountain stream, a day-dream — all may open doors to another realm of poetic mind. They also arouse unexpected vistas.

In Wordsworth’s haunting poem “Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood,” reveries opened for him an unexpected awareness of past lives.

§

“Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting
And cometh from afar …”

§

There is “a class of fancies of exquisite delicacy,” the poet Edgar Allan Poe wrote in Marginalia, “which are not thoughts, and to which, as yet, I have found it absolutely impossible to adapt language.”

Continue reading