When Oprah Winfrey interviewed Stephanie Meyer, the gazillionaire author of the Twilight series, Stephanie said that she got the idea for a book from a dream. She awoke one morning with a memory of a boy and a girl in a clearing. The image was crystal clear, and it lingered with her throughout the day, so she wrote it down, and that scene became Chapter 13 of her first book.
A similar thing happened to me right slap dab in the middle of May scoring. I woke up one morning with the vaguest memory of twin baby dragons. Where in the world, how in the world would my brain come up with a dream about dragons? I have never been the least bit interested in dragons. There is Puff from the song and Elliott from the movie. and that is all I know.
The twin baby dragon memory lingered through the day as a sort of smear rather than a clear image. I checked online and found that dragons are symbols of acute imagination bordering on the allegoric. My fascination multiplied. I felt I was on the brink of some forthcoming awareness, some bit of understanding that would link meaning to the dream.
I gave myself over to it fully, meaning I became emotionally hushed and mentally silent and empty as a blank page, which I cannot do easily and readily but I can do occasionally. Sometimes the trance-like quality of mindless scoring helps induce this state.
The words “twin baby dragons” lazed around in my brain as I continued scoring. Later that day I began to become aware of another strange phenomenon. As I got up for breaks and this and that, six words began to repeat themselves clearly: It is a sarry story mine. Now what’s interesting about that is the repetition, for one — the same six words over and over. “It is a sarry story mine.” We tend to notice repetition.
More noticeable, however, was the accent on the word “sorry.” The voice in my head was not saying “sorry.” It was saying “sarry” with a distinct Scottish brogue. Great, I thought. I have a Scottish voice in my head repeating, It is a sarry story mine. What am I to make of this?
Then the baby dragons would come to mind, and I would find myself in a whale of a quandary trying to make meaning of baby dragons and a Scottish lyricist and score essays at the same time. Soon I came to realize that a poem wanted out.
My inner poet often prefers the stricture and structure of rhymed verse. There is a limiting aspect of rhyme that keeps me off the slippery slopes of free, unrestrained, anything-goes verse where one is vulnerable to a mild form of madness. My “Pinball Nation” poem is a good example of this. It’s a great, rollicking, free-verse poem set within the confines of a pinball machine but just a tad bit wicked crazy. I blame it on graduate school. But back to the story, a poem wanting out.
I logged off my work program, picked up a pen and paper and wrote, It is a sarry story mine. The next three lines appeared instantly. About a beast what eats her kind/And how I borne to be a twin/Kept me from meeting my sure end.
There it was. A Scottish female dragon about to tell her tale. Such excitement, such delight! Droplets squeezed from a dream were appearing on a page. The rest of the poem fell out of me in about five minutes. I remember looking at my watch aghast.
I love this poem and the way it happened. “Why the Dragons Went Away” does just what the title suggests — it explains the demise of the dragons. Because dragons are allegorical, this becomes my first and only allegorical poem, significant because allegory is the highest form of make-believe. Aristotle claimed that allegorical thinking is the hallmark of genius.
No, I don’t think I’m a genius, but I do believe we all have glimmers of genius that are somehow connected to imagination, dreams, and states of consciousness. What follows is my little ballad about a baby dragon born in a dream.
It is a sorry story mine
About a beast what eats her kind
And how I borne to be a twin
Kept me from meeting my sure end
It was a time they ate they younger
So’s to quelch they burnin’ hunger
Every season another born’d
Every birth a death not mourned
Tiny tidbits teased delight
The palette of a thing of fright
A monster mother she for sure
And for her appetite no cure
Except the tiny morsels flung
From twixt her loins onto her tongue
The times they were all full of frost
And little babes they could get lost
But lost to me I’d rather be
Than chomped upon and ate by she
So slid I down the frosty slope
Onto the teat of an antelope
Who lay beside me night and day
And succored me till early May
When then my wings began to sprout
And I began to flit about
Unawares that a dragon mum
Was what I’d someday too become
And when the antelope told me this
I yelled aloud, Such heinousness!
Yee gads, ye gods! I’d rather tromp
With antelope than ever chomp
The babes I bear upon the high
No, no, not there — ye gods, come nigh!
Let me, Persillia Dragoness
Upon the ground to build my nest
And lie beneath a wingless beast
And on me babes refuse to feast.
So days they come and finally
The dragon mums no more they be
Now babes have ground on which to play
And that’s why dragons went away
The original poem ended here. I went back later to see if I could coax anything more from the dragon, and this is what came of that effort. It didn’t fall out of me easily as the verses above did but took time and effort, a sure sign the words are not inspired. The playful tone is missing, and while the lines above clearly come from her heart, Persillia’s reflections here seem to come from a more distant and less enchanted place. It’s really a separate poem.
What was is that in days of old
Led men and wem to be so bold
To think they was the highest thing
When all they was was lesser beings
They could not fly like dragons soar
Nor ope they mouths and like us roar
They could not run like antelope
Nor see in dark like cats do, nope
They could not speak without the word
As beasties do in every herde
The men, the wem, they’s lesser beasts
Who in this world count us the least
They has it wrong of course we know
It’s wee beasties who run the show
While men and wem walks to and fro
Wee beasties flit and fly and flow
Through magic fields and mystic whirls
The wee beasties create the world
Paying attention to repetition in a poem causes one to wonder, in this case, who the “wee beasties” are. Wee, off course, is a Scottish term meaning tiny or small. The beasties may be young children or young animals or perhaps animal familiars capable of slipping through dimensions.
Ultimately, the power of creation seems to be wrenched from the adults in this poem and given to the children, and it’s message, if there is one, seems to be a gentle pointing of the finger at adults, whose loss of touch with their inner child creates so much havoc.
The first poem, by contrast, gives us a first-hand account of why the dragons disappeared. Apparently, there was a prolonged ice age, and adult dragons began eating their young in order to stay alive. Eventually, no more young meant no more dragons.
And that’s why dragons went away.