Monday, August 15, 2011

Interpretation of Dream

HAD I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
W.B. Yeats (1865–1939)

Interpreting poetry is not my fortes, far from it. For years I have tried to improve my poetry comprehension skill but I must confess to no avail. While I get some of them and may even appreciate a few, I have yet to really ‘feel’ something within me after reading one, until I read Yeat’s Dream; It really struck a chord with me. Something deep within me was jolted by this poem, which is all the more surprising as the poem initially looked rather patently harmless; I will try my best to convey the emotion I felt after reading this, ergo it is definitely not the authentic interpretation but merely the musing of an idle mind.   

The image that came to my mind after reading the poem was that of a devoted lover tortured and tormented and yet ever so devoted to his love. He is tortured for he has already offered what is most cherished and valuable to him , and thus has played all his cards. It is out there in the open, vulnerable, pitiable, an act of desperation. He is tormented, for the person whom he worships so much has to be offered something in the first place. His action alone is a testament to the fact that his strength of devotion is stronger and his love greater than that of his lover. The realization is agonizing for him, he understands the wretched condition he is in and yet finds himself powerless against his better judgement. It is even more tragic for the fact that even after so much devotion and love, his object of worship retains the power to crush and trample down his love at whim. And it is a possibility as for this reason he states, nay pleads, not to crush his dream under her feet. The relationship is not between equals but rather between a master and her slave, one having complete control over the other.

It will be wrong, I believe, to assume that our hero or the protagonist is a weakling. As matter of fact it is my opinion that it is precisely the opposite. He is likely to be a well respected successful person and it is precisely this contrast in his positions that pangs him and turns him in to a tragic character. If he were a person of feeble strength and constitution, this master slave arrangement won’t have been an issue. It is his realization that under her spell he is powerless that is the source of all such lamentation. Additionally the poem is structured in a way which makes one feel that his lover is aware of her power over him and is amused by it. And yet he is overwhelmed by his infatuation or rather obsession and gives away all that is precious to him so that she might take pity in him.

In terms of how I picture this poetry or rather how it is being delivered, being a amateur classicist, the first image that came to my mind was that of a charming poet kneeling in front of a youthful fair maiden with skin white as snow draped in white muslin attire, precocious and attentive, a real Aphrodite. Our poet completely powerless under her spell while the she amuses herself and cruelly tortures him with the control she has over him, making him understand at every moment who is the master and yet without uttering a single word. Her intoxication lies with the power she wields against such a man rather than true love. It will be equally unjust to assign malevolence on the part of our Aphrodite; she is but a young nymphet drunk in the attention she is receiving and the absolute power she has been given. She would play her part best if she deludes herself in to believing that she is not playing with a tormented heart but is truly in love. 

The house of card will falter and is bound to collapse. An obsessive love is never sustainable; it transforms our love one in to a tyrant, for absolute power corrupts absolutely, even goddesses. I believe our hero is well aware of how it will end and can foresee the impending doom, and yet cannot avoid his fate. His very devotion will be the death of him, and his dreams will be trampled. It could have been a poem recited by some Humbert to his Lolita.