Lit by a crescent moon
this blood rose
Last night I had a dream.
In the dream, I woke up and walked down into our dining area. It was 2am and the moon was shining brightly through the window, illuminating a large piece of ‘butchers wrap’ on the table.
I picked up a pen and wrote the above poem down on the paper. I stepped back and read it over.
Now this is interesting.
I can remember many previous dreams where I have tried to write or type something, or have tried to read a sign or text… and without fail when I look at the result it has been gobbledygook.
A jumble of words that makes absolutely no sense. This is always accompanied by a feeling of great frustration. Agggghhhhhh! Why can’t I do this?
Apparently, this loss of capacity to read and write (and even to talk) is very common when dreaming. In fact most of us are unable to read, write or perform calculations in our dreams.
The main reason for this is that two of the language areas of our brain, Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area, tend to go offline when we sleep. This makes it difficult to access the meaning of words, and to manage grammar and syntax.
Even so, some people (and one researcher put the number at 1%) do seem to be able to work with language and writing in their dreams. Perhaps unsurprisingly, these people are often writers (and especially poets).
The classic poem Kubla Khan was supposedly written down by Samuel Taylor Coleridge after he saw it in a dream.
Paul McCartney is said to have dreamed the words to the song ’Yesterday’
Robert Lois Stevenson would use dreams to help ‘fill in’ characters and plot lines for novels he was writing. In fact he credited what he called his ‘Brownies’ for providing most of the story telling content, which he would then edit:
“Who are they then? My Brownies, who do one-half my work for me while I am fast asleep, and in all human likelihood, do the rest for me as well, when I am wide awake and fondly suppose I do it for myself…. so that, by that account, the whole of my published fiction should be the single-handed product of some Brownie, some Familiar, some unseen collaborator, whom I keep locked in a back garret, while I get all the praise and he but a share…”
Luckily for me I woke up straight after this dream. I thought it so interesting that I picked up my phone and typed out the poem…before falling back asleep again.
When I woke up, I could remember that I had and interesting dream but could not recall any of the details at all. That was until I looked at what I had written down, when the dream came back to me again in detail. Additionally, this was accompanied by fragments of some other dreams I have had in the past but had completely forgotten. Weird.
Deirdre Barrett is an author and psychologist who teaches at Harvard Medical School and has an interest in dreams. She has been exploring the use of dreams in problem-solving in a process she calls dream incubation.
- Write down the problem as a brief phrase or sentence, and place this by your bed.
- Review the problem for a few minutes just before going to bed.
- Once in bed, visualize the problem as a concrete image if it lends itself to this. Visualize yourself dreaming about the problem, awakening, and writing on the bedside note pad.
- Tell yourself you want to dream about the problem just as you are drifting off to sleep.
- Keep a pen and paper — perhaps also a flashlight or pen with a lighted tip — on the night table.
- Arrange objects connected to the problem on your night table… or on the wall across from your bed if they lend themselves to a poster.
- Upon awakening, lie quietly before getting out of bed. Note whether there is any trace of a recalled dream, and invite more of the dream to return if possible. Write it down.
I would say that writing it down immediately is critical. Because dream memories seem to have such a short half-life. If I had not have typed it into my phone I would never have remembered any of it.
But I did…so there you have it. My first dream poem:
Lit by a crescent moon
this blood rose
- Creative Problem-Solving Through Dreams with Deirdre Barrett, PhD, by Celeste Adams [Internet]. Spiritofmaat.com. 2018 [cited 2 August 2018]. Available from: http://www.spiritofmaat.com/archive/may3/barrett.htm
- The Scientific Reason You Can’t Read While You Dream [Internet]. Inverse. 2018 [cited 2 August 2018]. Available from: https://www.inverse.com/article/38510-can-you-read-in-your-dreams
- Deirdre Barrett – The “Committee of Sleep” : A Study of DreamIncubation for Probelm Solving – Dreaming Articles Online from the journal ofthe Association for the Study of Dreams [Internet]. Asdreams.org. 2018 [cited 2 August 2018]. Available from: https://www.asdreams.org/journal/articles/barrett3-2.htm