Thursday, 8 November 2012

Down where the Dream Woman dwells

I am preparing for tomorrow's poetry book club but cherry-picking poems to share with other human beings is harder than I thought. So many distractions! So much choice!
For example I just found this beautiful piece by the american poet Paul Laurence Dunbar. The little riddle is enigmatically entitled The Paradox and it... feels as delicate as a glass christmas tree ornament and as cold as dirty ice.
Totally a keeper.
Here, see for yourself:

I AM the mother of sorrows,
          I am the ender of grief;
I am the bud and the blossom,
          I am the late-falling leaf.

I am thy priest and thy poet,
          I am thy serf and thy king;
I cure the tears of the heartsick,
          When I come near they shall sing.

White are my hands as the snowdrop;
          Swart are my fingers as clay;
Dark is my frown as the midnight,
          Fair is my brow as the day.

Battle and war are my minions,
          Doing my will as divine;
I am the calmer of passions,
          Peace is a nursling of mine.

Speak to me gently or curse me,
          Seek me or fly from my sight;
I am thy fool in the morning,
          Thou art my slave in the night.

Down to the grave will I take thee,
          Out from the noise of the strife;
Then shalt thou see me and know me--
          Death, then, no longer, but life.

Then shalt thou sing at my coming,
          Kiss me with passionate breath,
Clasp me and smile to have thought me
          Aught save the foeman of Death.

Come to me, brother, when weary,
          Come when thy lonely heart swells;
I'll guide thy footsteps and lead thee
          Down where the Dream Woman dwells.

by Paul Laurence Dunbar
Dunbar circa 1890
click here for more about the author


  1. Don't worry about the distractions: your choices were excellent.

  2. You're welcome. Sorry the comment's anonymous, blogspot doesn't seem to like me trying to link to a wordpress blog.

    Are you planning to do it again?

  3. :)
    Yes! I am a very impaired chaotic and procrastination-prone planner BUT I think it would be great to have a meeting in that pub we went to afterwards!
    Your poems were great btw! Isn't it fun to share things in person as opposed to just social media? How refreshing!
    What's your blog?:D

  4. The Star is indeed a more poetry-friendly place, since you don't have to ask for the music to be turned down.

    My own (rarely updated) site is:

    and I have occasional pieces on Vulpes Libris: