Dream-to-Waking Structure

The dream-to-waking structure is a two-part structure that, first, provides a dream (or a daydream, or reverie, or a vision), and then, second, wakes from that dream.  Waking has the power to confirm or to negate the power of the dream.  If the dream is undermined, it is likely that the poem will have much in common with other poems that employ the ironic structure.

Some poems that employ the dream-to-waking structure include:

“The Prairies,” by William Cullen Bryant (pp. 130-33).

“Dream,” by Dan Chiasson

“The Eolian Harp,” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge  “The Eolian Harp” very quickly enters a visionary state, only to be awakened in the final stanza by Sara’s “mild reproof.”

“Dawn,” by Ella Higginson

“Translucence: An Assay,” by Jane Hirshfield (in After: Poems (New York: HarperCollins, 2006): 15).

“A Thought of the Nile,” by Leigh Hunt

“Ode to a Nightingale,” by John Keats

“For My Daughter,” by Weldon Kees

“Holidays,” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Sharks at the New York Aquarium,” by Charles Martin

“The Tired Worker,” by Claude McKay

“On the Hills of Dawn,” by Alexander Posey

“Dream of the Huntress,” by Robin Robertson

“Solitude (I),” by Robin Robertson  In “Solitude (I),” a version of a poem by Tomas Transtromer, the dream is the nightmarish near-death experience of the  miraculously-avoided car crash.

“In the Green Morning, Now, Once More,” by Delmore Schwartz

“The Afterlife,” by Lynne Sharon Schwartz (p. 56)

“Robert Kennedy,” by Frederick Seidel (p. 442).

“Whitney Ellsworth,” by Frederick Seidel

“Direction of Fall,” by Reginald Shepherd (in American Hybrid: A Norton Anthology of New Poetry, edited by Cole Swensen and David St. John (New York: Norton, 2009): 379).

“A Dream,” by Charles Tennyson Turner

Here is a poem that, just as the dream seems to come true, presents a harrowing kind of waking in the dream itself:

“Tell,” by Frank Osen

Here are some poems that turn from waking to dream:

“Zinc Fingers,” by Peter Meineke

“Heaven, 1963,” by Kim Noriega

Here are some poems that turn from waking/reality to dream/wish:

“Love Incarnate,” by Frank Bidart

“A Romance for the Wild Turkey,” by Paul Zimmer

Though it’s difficult to track all the dreaming and wakeful states in it, this poem clearly deploys the structures of dream and waking:

“The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner,” by Randall Jarrell

2 responses

30 07 2009
See Jane Turn « Structure & Surprise

[…] has poems that employ the dialectical argument structure, the metaphor-to-meaning structure, the dream-to-waking structure, and a few […]

27 06 2022

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