Friday, December 16, 2011

Tread Softly? Sorry, Yeats. Dreams Got to Be Tough.

Yeats. One of my passions. Unrequited, of course. But a girl can dream.In high school I read this poem he wrote about dreams. It is beautiful. But now I don't agree with it.
He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
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., I love this picture.And I hope your spread your dreams to someone who said, "W.B. Dreams got to be tough."
There are a lot of people who will use your dreams as a welcome mat to scrape their shoes on. Who will strap razors to shoes and tap dance on them. There will be the mincing and the well-meaning who will gently tell you that you can't do it, you are no good, and especially the ones who start out with, "I hate to tell you this, but..." And those ones are the worst, because they actually love to come and drip all over, not in a passionate thundering storm but in an endless, heart-wringing drizzle, so dreams dampen and wilt and mildew.
And there are the good and true who will tell you, with absence of malice, what they honestly think of your work, your dreams, and their courage is a big gift, and a hard one to give, because it's tempting to tread softly.
I think it's better to tread kindly, and speak truthfully, because that is a gift.
You have to be tough to dream. And discuss dreams with kindred spirits, avoiding the "lean and hungry" who will be pleased and fulfilled by pulling you down.
Dreams deserve better than to be the daisy on a piece of astroturf.
Weave your dreams with the colors of your life, all of them: ash gray and cobalt, crimson and spring green, iridescent and raw.
Tough doesn't mean rough or insensitive or brutal. It means having a dream so strong that it can repel despair when it knocks,or blows the door down, as it always does. It means the dream is strong enough to fight for itself when you face doubt. It means that you surrender to the dream and its demands, and honor it by having honest people reflect back to you true things that will make you, and the dream, stronger.
Then the dream will be strong enough to help you, too. Blood for blood.


  1. Hmm. I completely agree with the way you ended this, because a dream is not the opposite of a nightmare - in fact, to pursue a dream can often be much harder, but I don't think that was Yeats' point.

    Personally, I don't picture him spreading his dreams beneath the tread of a lover, or even a trusted friend. I see him spreading his dreams beneath the steps of every person he's ever met, because, in my mind, sometimes that's what it takes.

    BTW, I love you for analyzing this, even if we don't agree. I did a whole week of posts on poetry a while back, email me if you can't find them.

  2. It's still a most glorious poem tho!

    Take care

  3. That was very nice. I do love Yeats. Maybe he was thinking of Maud Gonne when he wrote this? I think he never got over her. At least, that's what I read.

  4. I find that when I step back and look, that I am already clothed with the cloth of heaven. Creation is all around me, in all it's beauty, majesty and power. As I grow spiritually, I realize that creation is already more than I can dream. I am pleasantly surprised each time I look beyond myself. ;D