“In Praise of Dreams” x 2

“After Midnight” by Rene Lynch
by Wislawa Szymborska

In my dreams
I paint like Vermeer van Delft.

I speak fluent Greek
and not just with the living.

I drive a car
that does what I want it to.

I am gifted
and write mighty epics.

I hear voices
as clearly as any venerable saint.

My brilliance as a pianist
would stun you.

I fly the way we ought to,
i.e.,  on my own.

Falling from the roof,
I tumble gently to the grass.

I've got no problem
breathing under water.

I can't complain:
I've been able to locate Atlantis.

It's gratifying that I can always
wake up before dying.

As soon as war breaks out,
I roll over on my other side.

I'm a child of my age,
but I don't have to be.

A few years ago
I saw two suns.

And the night before last a penguin,
clear as day.

~ from Poems: New and Collected, 1957-1997, translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh (Ecco, 2000).
“Dreaming Girl” by Gilly Marklew.


Dreams, whether fleeting daydreams, wish fulfillment night dreams, or long held desires — are important indicators of who we are, what we value, and sometimes they serve to motivate us to achieve certain life goals.

They’re also a fun way to consider the subconscious, unleash the imagination and verbalize the unbelievable.

Szymborska’s poem inspired California poet Gary Soto to write about his own dreams.


“The Guitar Player” by Fabian Perez.
by Gary Soto

after Wislawa Szymborska

In my dreams,
I lasso a wild steer on the first try.

I chauffeur Picasso
To meet up with Dali --
None of us is happy about this summit.

After licking my fingertips,
I play guitar masterfully.

I use index cards to make sense
Of the universe.

I discover my childhood cat in the neighbor's tree--
So that's where you've been, you little rascal.

I beg the alligator, por favor,
To make a snap judgement,
Will it be my leg or my arm?

Picture me swimming with dolphins.
Picture me with these dolphins
Sitting in lawn chairs.

I'm full of gratitude--
The lightbulb comes on
When the refrigerator door is opened.

Yes, I'm the scientist who solved laryngitis--
Now all of us howl at our own pleasure.

I get to throw a trophy from a moving car.
When I park my car,
I'm awarded another trophy --
Someone above is giving me a second chance.

~ © 2020 by Gary Soto. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 29, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
“Restraint 2 Cowboys Roping a Steer” by Don Langeneckert


Szymborska seems to value artistic mastery as well as superhuman powers like flying and breathing under water, enabling her to face adversity, survive catastrophes and achieve a kind of immortality. She’s more philosophical and symbolic than Soto.

I like how Soto injects humor and a fond memory in his poem. His voice is conversational and accessible. Who can resist, “licking my fingertips,” the “snap judgement” of the alligator, or those “dolphins/Sitting in lawn chairs”? 🙂

Both express gratitude for their lives in lovely, distinctive ways.


Of course I couldn’t help but think about my own dreams. Not only fun, but empowering. Fantasy makes life more bearable. Part of me says “impossible,” while the other part says, “why not?” Doesn’t writing make it so? 🙂

~ Maira Kalman (What Pete Ate from A-Z, 2003)


Sam Heughan begs invites me to live with him in Scotland.

I teleport myself to England at whim and the weather is always good.

I own Harrods.

The real Paddington Brown lives with us.

I am fluent in at least 10 different languages.

I live at the Plaza Hotel and join Eloise for tea in the Palm Court every week.

I bake the biggest, most delicious pie the world has ever seen and the people who eat it are deliriously happy for the rest of their lives.

My house cleans itself.

I inherit Maira Kalman’s inimitable talent.

Colin Firth and Paul McCartney have me on speed dial.

My singing is simply divine and I look good in hats.

I can leap tall buildings in a single bound – with my eyes closed.

I win a tango championship in Argentina with Robert Duvall.

Jackson Browne is a neighbor and whenever I pop over he sings for me.

Whenever I read a good book, I can step right into it and become any character I choose.

When Shakespeare, the Brontës, Louisa May Alcott, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Michael Bond visit the Cornelius Rattigan Tea Room, we assure them they will be read and loved forever and ever.

I see my parents again.

There is no such thing as hate.


Speaking of Vermeer:

Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth in “Girl With a Pearl Earring” (2003).

What do you dream of?


The lovely and talented Catherine Flynn is hosting the Roundup at Reading to the Core. Bounce over to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served up around the blogosphere this week. Happy December!

*Copyright © 2022 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

30 thoughts on ““In Praise of Dreams” x 2

  1. A Jama original. More, please! A fabulous post that opens with stars. Sigh. Nothing better. This is a poem to read and take as a prompt. Hmmmmm. Need to tap into my dreams. Thanks, Jama! I wish I was on the speed dial of those your poem mentions!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A dreamy post, Jama! I think you’re well on your way realizing your dream to “bake the biggest, most delicious pie the world has ever seen” filled with delicious Alphabet Soup blog posts that make this reader “deliriously happy”. Thanks for the trifecta of dreamy poems. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your dream 🛌 is Devine… May I have a piece of your delicious pie, and oh for the power to “see my parents again,” and step inside 📕 ah marvelous, I love 💗 this whole post!!! More dreams are in the poetry posts this week, something’s in the air. Thanks for the inspiring dream poems and art! xox ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree. Dreams represent the subconscious — not only wish fulfillment (I’ve met James Taylor several times in my dreams), but they also point to issues one needs to address. Sometimes they can inspire us to take action. Now if I could only remember more of my dreams . . .


      1. Years back, I had a therapist who was trained in dream therapy. She convinced me to keep a dream journal, which allowed me to take a very long and interesting journey with her. She was a gem.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Eloise will be dropping by for tea in a couple of weeks. She’s definitely been on my mind recently. Paddington is always game, but I sense he prefers cocoa to tea.


  4. At first, I immediately thought I’d love to have my students read, then write “after” Szymborska’s poem, then, happy day, there was Gary Soto’s, whom I love & whose work I shared a lot with students, then! There were your own dreams in a poem, wow! It was expected to see who have you on speed dial & your baking that awesome pie, having the awesome visitors, but the ending, a dream I wish came true, to see my parents again, and the grandparents, too. Thanks, Jama, you make me feel good every week!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You know me too well, Linda. I’d guess many of us are missing our parents, grandparents, and other relatives and friends we’ve lost during the holidays. Christmas has definitely become a poignant holiday.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Jama, Thank you! This is such a fun and inspirational post! I love all three poets and their poems – all unique voices because their dreams are all unique. I have vivid dreams that are frequently very real to me when I wake up. I’ll have to keep track and try writing a poem about them. What a great idea! And, you had me at Vermeer! (I am a fan and saw The Girl With the Pearl Earring at a museum in Den Haag (The Netherlands). Loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, how lucky that you were able to see Vermeer’s painting in person. Very cool!! I do hope you write a poem or two inspired by your dreams. They say Vitamin E helps people have vivid dreams. 🙂


  6. I love the way each part of the Szymborska poem is its own story starter. “I speak fluent Greek / and not just with the living.” Which ghosts are part of this dream conversation?


  7. Such thought-provoking poems! I love that each poem has musical aspirations–I always wanted to play more than chopsticks on the piano. Yes to your last line! If we all dream “there is no such thing as hate,” will it be so?


Comments are closed.