The Harlequin of Dreams

Sidney Lanier

Swift, through some trap mine eyes have never found,
Dim-panelled in the painted scene of sleep,
Thou, giant Harlequin of Dreams, dost leap
Upon my spiritís stage. Then Sight and Sound,
Then Space and Time, then Language, Mete and Bound,
And all familiar Forms that firmly keep
Manís reason in the road, change faces, peep
Betwixt the legs and mock the daily round.
Yet thou canst more than mock: sometimes my tears
At midnight break through bounden lids--a sign
Thou hast a heart: and oft thy little leaven
Of dream-taught wisdom works me bettered years.
In one night witch, saint, trickster, fool divine,
I think thouírt Jester at the Court of Heaven.

Sidney Lanier (1842-1881) was a poet, critic and musician who was also a member of the Macon Volunteers during the American Civil War. He is noted for his theory that the laws of music and poetry are identical and both based upon the physics of sound: duration, intensity, pitch, and tone color.

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