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Friday 17 June 2011


Did I dream as a small boy
a narrow lane with clock towers ranged
on either side, and at its end
a golden tower beneath whose clock
I was to meet my Great Aunt Maud?

And did I dream that I'd arrived
to find the great clock striking twelve
and Great Aunt Maud nowhere around,
then dreamed the clock struck on past twelve
and seemed as though it would not stop,
until with one enormous "Dong!"
the face fragmented, showered the ground?

The hands still moved, but madly now,
the cogs and ratchets, weights and chains
were blurs before my startled eyes.
I thought I'd dreamed it, but was told
the clock was real, was Great Aunt Maud's.
Her carriage clock (The gold was brass?)
had stood for years, and struck the hours
totally sans face and hands.

Faceless people, hands in prayer;
faceless clocks, hands locked as one,
were constant in my early dreams.
Corrosive after-images, they followed me
from depth of dream to height of day.
But did they also lay false trails,
mock memories of bogus dreams?

Both might be true, I might have worked
the carriage clock into my dream -
though it is gone from memory.


lucychili said...


Shadow said...

so reality and imagination intermingle with time...

SG said...

Faceless people and faceless clocks - an interesting though occurred to me. That when you have everyone praying with hands clasped, it is the prayer that you notice, not the face of each individual.

Carl said...

The fragments of childhood dream lay sharp as razors to our full grown minds. Some of these fragments are very strong and haunting. Great poem it made me reflect on the things I think i remember as dreams from childhood.

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

I have written a haiku in my blog, I thought about you who dedicated so much to them.

Mary said...

Very interesting sometimes how the mind works, especially in dreams, when reality and imagination work hand in hand. Your poem leaves me wondering really what realilty is....

Louise said...

Brilliant - loved the tone of it!

DUTA said...

It reminds me...
My mother was blind during the last decade of her life (glaucoma disease). I brought her a talking clock and placed it on a side table by her. The clock announced the time each hour, and she could push a button and get the time any moment she wanted.

After her death, I didn't change the battery, and yet the clock went on to announce the time for ten more years (during the last years - not every hour). It was both amazing and scaring.

Jenny Woolf said...

Perhaps when you were a child you dreamed the explanation of why great Aunt Maud's clock was so strange - and that's what you remember now. I don't think small children can differentiate between dream and reality very well. When I was 6 I can clearly remember seeing things which were not in front of my physical eyes. I thought it was slightly odd at the time but I can't say it really bothered me.

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

Powerful poem, in particular the last three stanzas. The "faceless" metaphor is breathtaking.

Dave King said...

Thanks to you all.
Please forgive me for notb eing able to answer all personally during my catch-up period.

Yes, I do think reality and dream intermingle, in all sorts of ways. I quite often go through an intermediate period when I'm waking up in which I still see what is happening in the dream, but hear the sounds of the real world. I'm sure we hear them in dream, of course, but I mean consciously hear them.

DUTA, your story is really very fascinating. Several metaphors hidden away there waiting to come out, I think.

Jenny's explanation is a real possibility, I think. I'm not sure even now if I can distinguish the real and dream worlds with certainty at all times.