music from a straw
...Thoreau's Journal: 26-Oct-1851

I awoke this morning to infinite regret. In my dream I had been riding, but the horses bit each other and occasioned endless trouble and anxiety, and it was my employment to hold their heads apart. Next I sailed over the sea in a small vessel such as the Northmen used, as it were to the Bay of Fundy, and thence overland I sailed, still over the shallows about the sources of rivers toward the deeper channel of a stream which emptied into the Gulf beyond,—the Miramichi, was it? Again I was in my own small pleasure-boat, learning to sail on the sea, and I raised my sail before my anchor, which I dragged far into the sea. I saw the buttons which had come off the coats of drowned men, and suddenly I saw my dog—when I knew not that I had one—standing in the sea up to his chin, to warm his legs, which had been wet, which the cool wind numbed. And then I was walking in a meadow, where the dry season permitted me to walk further than usual, and there I met Mr. Alcott, and we fell to quoting and referring to grand and pleasing couplets and single lines which we had read in times past; and I quoted one which in my waking hours I have no knowledge of, but in my dream it was familiar enough. I only know that those which I quoted expressed regret, and were like the following, though they were not these, viz.:—
“The short parenthesis of life was sweet,”
“The remembrances of youth is a sigh,” etc.
It had the word “memory” in it!! And then again the instant that I awoke, methought I was a musical instrument from which I heard a strain die out, a bugle, or a clarionet, or a flute. My body was the organ and channel of melody, as a flute is of the music that is breathed through it. My flesh sounded and vibrated still to the strain, and my nerves were the chords of the lyre. I awoke, therefore, to an infinite regret,—to find myself, not the thoroughfare of glorious and world-stirring inspirations, but a scuttle full of dirt, such a thoroughfare only as the street and the kennel, where, perchance, the wind may sometimes draw forth a strain of music from a straw.


5thBeliever said...


Jeanette said...

WOW, beautiful! so glad I visited today

michael jameson said...

"to sleep, perchance to dream", science has determined why we dream and when,if i hear r.e.m. one more time arrg! other then science there is about 2300 other reasons why and about dreaming, i am a man of science yet i enjoy the lucid sleep and dream every night! yet as a child nothing terrified me more then my nightmares!?, as we have no choice but to dream may it give you what you need. michael jameson

vanjulio said...

just found this one - awesome to dream of words like that - especially novel lines that somehow your brain is constructing while you sleep. makes you wonder. also I have found when I dream of words I find in a book or words I am writing down or just repeating as quotes, written quotes that I'm verbalizing, they always possess absurd amounts of grandeur like the "sweet parenthesis of life".