February 10, 2017

Dream-Pedlary

If there were dreams to sell,
What would you buy?
Some cost a passing bell;
Some a light sigh,
That shakes from Life’s fresh crown
Only a rose-leaf down.
If there were dreams to sell,
Merry and sad to tell,
And the crier rang the bell,
What would you buy?

        Here’s a poem that recently struck me.  It actually has two verses.  In the second verse the poet answers the question, “A cottage lone and still…” but I’m not really interested in the poet's answer.  I like the question to stand unanswered, open-ended.  What does it take to buy a dream?  What are the costs, from a few sighs, to giving your life?  What does it mean to put an economic or monetary spin on dreams, and how does it change the way we think about them?  Normally we think we have our dreams for free, whether we like it or not, and it’s the accomplishment of those dreams that will have a cost.  So how does it change the way we think if we have to purchase or earn even the dreams themselves in the first place?  What is the cost of denying someone a dream?  What happens to a dream deferred?
        And what would you buy?

Dream-Pedlary by Thomas Lovell Beddoes (English, 1803-1849).  (Poem from Poems of the Fantastic and Macabre.)

[Picture: Histrio. Der Schalksnarr (The Peddling Jester), wood block print by Jost Amman from Panoplia omnium illiberalium mechanicarum, 1568 (Image from the British Museum).]

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