What Are Dreams?

ARE dreams a portion of our active life?
Are they the living movements of the soul,
Which grows more wakeful while the body sleeps;
And, unrepressed by drear reality,
Its playful vigil keeps, or weaves its web
Of self-entangling sorrow—picturing,
In deeper shades or wilder ecstasies,
The joys or troubles of our waking hours?

Or, are we merely passive in our sleep?
Do 'spiritual creatures' visit us,
And hold more ready converse with the mind—
Unshackled, whiles, by life corporeal—
Forewarning it, by emblematic signs,
Of coming grief or pleasure?—
We but know,
As yet, in part; but, when eternity
Shall dawn—when the strange noose is loosed
Which ties the soul to matter—we shall know
As we are known. The freed inhabitant
Of this our mortal tenement, shall then
Its own mysterious secrets learn; and, skilled
Its past experience to trace, 'twill live,
In thought, its life terrestrial o'er again.
Yea, then, shall spiritual essences
Be our companions in celestial bliss,
Or, sharers, with us, of sin's penalties.

And, if to speak of past acquaintanceship
Be ours, with spirits perverse, how terrible
That converse! But, if angels blest shall pour
Their sweet communications in our ear,
And tell of pleasing whispers to the soul
In far departed hours of earthly sleep—
How rapturous, to hail eternally
In heaven, that brotherhood of spirits pure,
Our secret visitants of love on earth!

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