Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A DREAM, by BERNARD BARTON



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A DREAM, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Thou art not one of the living now
Last Line: And love, in some such dream as this!
Alternate Author Name(s): Quaker Poet
Subject(s): Dreams; Nightmares


THOU art not one of the living now;
And yet a form appears
At times before me, such as thou
In days of former years:
It rises, to my spirit's sight,
In thoughts by day, in dreams by night.

Nor can I choose, but fondly bless
A shade, if shade it be,
Which, with such soft expressiveness,
Recalls one thought of thee:
I own it, in itself, ideal;
Its influence o'er my heart is real.

I grant that dreams are idle things,
Yet have I known a few,
To which my faithful memory clings;
They seem'd so sweet and true,
That, let who will the fault condemn,
It was a grief to wake from them.

One such came lately in the hours
To nightly slumber due;
It pictur'd forth no fairy bowers
To fancy's raptur'd view;
It had not much of marvels strange,
Nor aught of wild and frequent change:—

But all seem'd real.—Aye! as much,
As now the page I trace
Is palpable to sight and touch;
Then how could doubt have place?
Yet was I not from doubt exempt,
But ask'd myself if still I dreamt.

I felt I did; but, spite of this,
Even thus in dreams to meet,
Had much, too much of dearest bliss,
Though not enough to cheat:
I knew the vision might not stay,
And yet I blest its transient sway.

But oh, thy look!—It was not one
That earthly features wear;
Nor was it aught to fear or shun,
As fancied spectres are:
'T was gentle, pure, and passionless,
Yet full of heavenly tenderness.

One thing was strange.—It seem'd to me
We were not long alone;
But many more were circling thee,
Whom thou on earth hadst known,
Who seem'd as greeting thy return
From some unknown, remote sojourn.

To them thou wast, as others be
Whom on this earth we love;
I marvell'd much they could not see
Thou camest from above:
And often to myself I said,
"How can they thus approach the dead?"

But though all these, with fondness warm
Said, "Welcome!" o'er and o'er,
Still that expressive shade, or form,
Was silent, as before!
And yet its stillness never brought
To them one hesitating thought.

I only knew thee as thou wert;
A being not of earth!
Yet had I not the power to exert
My voice to check their mirth;
For blameless mirth was theirs, to see
Once more, a friend belov'd as thee.

And so apart from all I stood,
Till tears, though not of grief,
Afforded, to that speechless mood,
A soothing, calm relief:
And, happier than if speech were free,
I stood, and watch'd thee silently!

I watch'd thee silently, and while
I mus'd on days gone by,
Thou gav'st me one celestial smile—
One look that cannot die.
It was a moment worthy years!
I woke, and found myself in tears.

In tears; but not such tears as fall
From sorrow's waking eye;
Nor such as flow at feeling's call
From woman's.—Mine are dry;
Save when they melt with soft'ning bliss
And love, in some such dream as this!





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