A DREAM BY WILLIAM ALLINGHAM
A DREAM I heard the dogs howl in the moonlight night; I went to the window to see the sight; All the Dead that ever I knew Going one by one and two by two. On they pass'd, and on they pass'd; Townsfellows all, from first to last; Born in the moonlight of the lane, Quench'd in the heavy shadow again. Schoolmates, marching as when they play'd At soldiers once - but now more staid; Those were the strangest sight to me Who were drown'd, I knew, in the awful sea. Straight and handsome folk, bent and weak, too; Some that I loved, and gasp'd to speak to; Some but a day in their churchyard bed; Some that I had not known were dead.
A DREAM A long, long crowd - where each seem'd lonely, Yet of them all there was one, one only, Raised a head or look'd my way; She linger'd a moment - she might not stay. How long since I saw that fair pale face! Ah! Mother dear! might I only place My head on thy breast, a moment to rest, While thy hand on my tearful cheek were prest! On, on, a moving bridge they made Across the moon-stream, from shade to shade, Young and old, women and men; Many long-forgot, but remembered then, And first there came a bitter laughter; A sound of tears a moment after; And then a music so lofty and gay, That eve morning, day by day, I strive to recall it if I may.
BACKGROUND • William Allingham (19 March 1824 or 1828 - 18 November 1889) was an Irish man of letters and a poet. • He was born in Ballyshannon, County Donegal, Ireland was the son of the manager of a local bank who was of English descent. He obtained a post in the custom-house of his native town and held several similar posts in Ireland England until 1870, when he had retired from the service, and became sub-editor of Fraser's Magazine, which he edited from 1874 to 1879, in succession to James Froude. He had published a volume of Poems in 1850, followed by Day and Night Songs, a volume containing many charming lyrics, in 1855. Allingham was on terms of close friendship with DG Rossetti, who contributed to the illustration of the Songs. His Letters to Allingham (1854 -1870) were edited by Dr. Birkbeck Hill in 1897. Lawrence Bloomfield in Ireland, his most ambitious, though not his most successful work, a narrative poem illustrative of Irish social questions, appeared in 1864. He also edited The Ballad Book for the Golden Treasury series in 1864. • In 1874 Allingham married Helen Paterson, known under her married name as a water-colour painter. He died at Hampstead in 1889, and his ashes are interred at St. Anne's in his native Ballyshannon.
BACKGROUND • Though working on an unostentatious scale, Allingham produced much excellent lyrical and descriptive poetry, and the best of his pieces are thoroughly national in spirit and local colouring. His verse is clear, fresh, and graceful. • Other works are Fifty Modern Poems (1865), Songs, Poems, and Ballads (1877), Evil May Day (1883), Blackberries (1884), Irish Songs and Poems (1887), and Varieties in Prose (1893), and, arguably his most famous work, "The Faeries" (see below). • William Allingham: a Diary (1907), edited by Mrs Allingham and D Radford, contains many interesting reminiscences of Tennyson, Carlyle and other famous contemporaries • The Ulster poet John Hewitt felt Allingham's influence keenly, and his attempts to revive his reputation included editing and writing an introduction to The Poems of William Allingham (Oxford University Press/ Dolmen Press, 1967).
youtube A reading of his famous poem The Fairies as an introduction to the poet’s work http: //www. youtube. com/watch? v=1 Xq. DOH 2 t. Mh. A
History about the return of the dead • Ireland • During Samhain in Ireland, the dead are supposed to return, and food and light are left for them. Lights are left burning all night, as on Christmas Eve, and food is left outdoors for them. It is believed that food fallen on the floor should also be left, as someone needed it. • Europe • Traditionally, in Celtic and Germanic Europe, the feast of Samhain was specially associated with the deceased, and, in these countries, it was still customary to set a place for them at table on this day until relatively recent times. After Christianisation, in most Catholic countries in Europe (and Anglican England), November 1 (All Saints' Day, also known as Day of the Dead) became the day when families go to the cemeteries and light candles for their dead relatives. This is a very ancient practice, already present long before the time of the Roman Empire. In the early Catholic Church, honouring Christian relatives who had died was commonplace, and, during the post-Apostolic period when the Church was forced underground by the Roman Empire, the Mass was celebrated among the catacombs. The official day, according to the Church, to commemorate the dead who have not attained beatific vision is November 2 (All Souls' Day). • http: //en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Samhain
Day of the Dead In some countries the dead are honoured with specials festivals and their living ancestors believe that the dead visit them on these days • Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de los Muertos) is a holiday celebrated by many in Mexico and by some Mexican Americans living in the United States and Canada. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. The celebration occurs on November 2 in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints' Day (November 1) and All Souls' Day (November 2). Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts. The Day of the Dead is a time of celebration when eating and parties are common. Due to occurring shortly after Halloween, the Day of the Dead is sometimes thought to be a similar holiday, although the two are celebrated differently. This holiday is similar to All Saints Day. • Scholars trace the origins of the modern holiday to indigenous observances dating back thousands of years and to an Aztec festival dedicated to a goddess called Mictecacihuatl. In Brazil, Dia de Finados is a public holiday that many Brazilians celebrate by visiting cemeteries and churches. In Spain, there are festivals and parades, and, at the end of the day, people gather at cemeteries and pray for their dead loved ones. Similar observances occur elsewhere in Europe, and similarly themed celebrations appear in many Asian and African cultures. www. wikipedia. com
Form, rhythm and rhyme • The poem has quite a jaunty, marching rhythm with the first and second lines of each stanza rhyming and the third and fourth lines rhyming. This constant rhyme is throughout the whole poem, reflecting the people of his town and family marching by. • It is made up of eight stanzas, consisting of four lines each. • A lyric poem – type of poetry which expresses personal/ emotional feelings, often to a metrical criteria, in ancient times used to be read along with the lyre (ancient form of string instrument).
Summary of the poem Stanza one - the main character of the poem hears howling in the moonlight and goes to the window. Dogs are howling and it is a full moon. Sets the scene for the unexpected to happen with “full moon” -he sees dead people of the town going past singularly or in twos. Stanza two -the dead keep passing , all towns folk who have died, the have come to live in the moonlight of the lane and then pass back into the shadows again Stanza three – his school friends are marching as if they were still alive and playing soldiers with the poet but now they are slower and seem stiffer -the persona found it a very unusual sight when he saw people walking who had drowned at sea. Stanza four -young , standing up straight and old, bent and sick were all there, some of the people he really loved and wanted to speak to, others had only been dead a very short time and some he hadn’t known had died.
Summary of the poem Stanza five – the queue of these people marching was very long and they seemed very lonely individually -he really wanted to see one person and that was his long dead mother –he sees her “She lingered a moment, - she might not stay. ” Stanza six - He expresses his sadness at not having seen her for years and he seem to have really missed her – wishing to place his head on her breast, have a cuddle with her hand pressing on his face when he was upset – the persona is possibly going through some trial or problem and longs for comfort and advice from his dear, dead mother.
Summary of the poem Stanza seven – the queue keeps moving on, resembling a moving bridge, crossing the moon’s bright light shining down on them and then going back into the shadows, all ages and all sexes, many had been dead so long that people had forgotten about them but not once they had been seen. Stanza eight – the persona hears a bitter, sad laugh and the sound of tears after this –Are the dead crying for the life they had and the people they have left? Strangely these sounds are followed by “music so lofty and gay”. Are the dead people going to a special festival or dance? The persona tries to remember this dream every morning of his life. However, was it really a dream?
THEMES • How people miss those close to them who have passed on • The strangeness of one’s dreams and how they can bring comfort • On a religious note –the dead could have arisen as stated in the Bible and are ready to begin a new life
GET FLIRTY!!! F L I R 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. T Y 6. Focus on the form of the poem , looking at the structure, punctuation, line lengths and the arrangement of the poem’s stanzas. How do these features add interest and meaning to the poem? Also examine the arrangements of the words, phrases and sentences in the poem. Examine the language used in the poem, looking at the meaning of words and whether they have negative or positive connotations. Look at the techniques, imagery and poetic language that has been used? How do these techniques bring out the main themes and ideas in the poem? How does the poet make use of rhyme, repetition and rhythm? Why does he do this? What are the poet’s main ideas that he brings out in the poem and how does he do this? Explain the feelings that the poet conveys throughout the poem. Describe the poet’s attitude to his subject. Does this change as the poem progresses? Carefully examine the tone throughout the poem and find vocabulary to back up your discussion. How do you react to this poem? Does it bring any particular thoughts to mind? Which poems would you compare this one with?
Activities • Rule up an eight frame chart and write down the activities, people mentioned and feeling that are evident in each stanza –use quotes as reference • Write three paragraph expressing the persona’s shock , surprise, wonder and sentimental feelings in the poem.
• The Irish poet William Allingham (1824 -1889) numbered Dante Gabriel Rossetti among his friends; Rossetti provided illustrations for one of this books. • Dreams have frequently been used in literature to explore the subconscious or present visions, and this poem could be said to do both. While a moonlit march of the dead might seem to be a macabre gothic sight, Allingham does not present it like that. Though the figures pass through ‘moonlight’ and ‘shadow’, they are defined as ordinary people – ‘Townsfellows’, ‘Schoolmates’, ‘Straight and handsome folk; bent and weak too’. There is nothing sinister about the ‘crowd’. Throughout, though, the narrator recognises that the people are dead – he finds the ‘drowned’ are ‘the strangest sight’, recognises that others are dead ‘but a day’ and others he ‘had not known were dead. ’ The tone of the description suggests an interested observer rather than registering any shock or horror at the sight. • It is only the sight of the dreamer’s mother which causes an emotional response. The sixth stanza demonstrates the feeling of loss which death has caused and the longing for maternal comfort now denied the narrator. The penultimate stanza withdraws from that emotion and close focus and sees the whole group again, while the final stanza, elongated by a line, shows the dreamer striving to ‘recall’ the night-time vision, rather than dismiss it.
Compare with • Because I Could Not Stop for Death Emily Dickinson • Because I Liked You Better A. E. Housman • Song: Tears, Idle Tears Alfred, Lord Tennyson • A Quoi Bon Dire Charlotte Mew Find the links between each of the above poems and ‘A Dream’. Write a paragraph comparing each. • One Art Elizabeth Bishop • Friend Hone Tuwhare • Time’s Fool Ruth Pitter • Cold in the Earth Emily Brontë • from The Triumph of Time A. C. Swinburne