Recollections of a Dreamland

James Clerk Maxwell 1831 (Edinburgh, Scotland) – 1879 (Cambridge, England)

Rouse ye! torpid daylight-dreamers, cast your carking cares away!
As calm air to troubled water, so my night is to your day;
All the dreary day you labour, groping after common sense,
And your eyes ye will not open on the night's magnificence.
Ye would scow were I to tell you how a guiding radiance gleams
On the outer world of action from my inner world of dreams.

When, with mind released from study, late I lay note down to sleep,
From the midst of facts and figures, into boundless space I leap;
For the inner world grows wider as the outer disappears,
And the soul, retiring inward, finds itself beyond the spheres.
Then, to this unbroken sameness, some fantastic dream succeeds,
Vague emotions rise and ripen into thoughts and words and deeds.
Old impressions, long forgotten, range themselves in Time and Space,
Till I recollect the features of some once familiar place.
Then from valley into valley in my dreaming course I roam,
Till the wanderings of my fancy end, where they began, at home.
Calm it lies in morning twilight, while each streamlet far and wide
Still retains its hazy mantle, borrowed from the mountain's side;
Every knoll is now an island every wooded bank a shore,
To the lake of quiet vapour that has spread the valley o’er.
Sheep are couched on every hillock, waiting till the morning dawns,
Hares are on their early rambles, limping o’er the dewy lawns.
All within the house is silent, darkened all the chambers seem,
As with noiseless step I enter, gliding onwards in my dream.

What! has Time run out his cycle, do the years return again?
Are there treasure-caves in Dreamland where departed days remain?
I have leapt the bars of distance—left the life that late I led—
I remember years and labours as a tale that I have read;
Yet my heart is hot within me, for I feel the gentle power
Of the spirits that still love me, waiting for this sacred hour.
Yes,—I know the forms that meet me are but phantoms of the brain,
For they walk in mortal bodies, and they have not ceased from pain.
Oh! those signs of human weakness, left behind for ever now,
Dearer far to me than glories round a fancied seraph's brow.
Oh! the old familiar voices ! Oh! the patient waiting eyes!
Let me live with them in dreamland, while the world in slumber lies!
For by bonds of sacred honour will they guard my soul in sleep
From the spells of aimless fancies, that around my senses creep.
They will link the past and present into one continuous life,
While I feel their hope, their patience, nerve me for the daily strife.
For it is not all a fancy that our lives and theirs are one,
And we know that all we see is but an endless work begun.
Part is left in Nature's keeping, part is entered into rest,
Part remains to grow and ripen, hidden in some living breast.
What is ours we know not, either when we wake or when we sleep,
But we know that Love and Honour, day and night, are ours to keep.
What though Dreams be wandering fancies, by some lawless force entwined,
Empty bubbles, floating upwards through the current of the mind?
There are powers and thoughts within us, that we know not, till they rise
Through the stream of conscious action from where Self in secret lies.
But when Will and Sense are silent, by the thoughts that come and go,
We may trace the rocks and eddies in the hidden depths below.

Let me dream my dream till morning; let my mind run slow and clear,
Free from all the world's distraction, feeling that the Dead are near,
Let me wake, and see my duty lie before me straight and plain.
Let me rise refreshed, and ready to begin my work again.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on March 05, 2023

3:19 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic octameter
Characters 3,538
Words 658
Stanzas 4
Stanza Lengths 6, 18, 28, 4

James Clerk Maxwell

James Clerk Maxwell was a Scottish scientist in the field of mathematical physics.  more…

All James Clerk Maxwell poems | James Clerk Maxwell Books

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