“To change, you must face the dragon of your appetites with another dragon: the life-energy of the soul.” —Rumi
Recently, Oprah interviewed Stephanie Meyer, the gazillionaire author of the Twilight series. Meyer said that she got the idea for her 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 lingered with her through the day, so she wrote it down and that scene became Chapter 13 of her first book.
A similar thing happened to me a few years ago. Right in the middle of May scoring, I awoke one morning with the vaguest memory of twin baby dragons. How my brain came up with a dream about dragons I do not know. 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. My fascination multiplied; I felt I was on the brink of some awareness that would link meaning to the dream.
I gave myself over to it fully, meaning I became emotionally hushed and mentally silent, which I cannot do easily and readily but I can do occasionally. Sometimes the trance-like quality of mindless scoring induces this quiet state.
The words “twin baby dragons” lazed around in my brain as I continued working. 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 repeating themselves clearly: It is a sarry story mine. What’s interesting about this is the repetition, for one — the same six words over and over. 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 to rhyme that keeps me off the slippery slopes of free, unrestrained, anything-goes verse where I am vulnerable to a mild form of madness. My “Pinball Nation” poem is a good example of that. It’s a long, rollicking, free-verse poem set within the confines of a pinball machine but just a tad bit wicked crazy. I blame it on the pressures of grad school.
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! Droplets squeezed from a dream were appearing on a page. The first half of the poem fell out of me in about five minutes. I remember looking at my watch aghast. I diddled with the second half over the course of several hours.
I love this poem and the way it happened. “Why the Dragons Went Away” attempts to link the demise of the dragons to an ice age. Because dragons are allegorical, this becomes my first 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. I think we all have glimmers of genius that are somehow connected to imagination, dreams, and states of consciousness. Albert Einstein claimed that every major discovery he made came through a dream.
What follows is my little ballad about a baby dragon born in a dream, explaining why the dragons went away.
It is a sarry 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 mourn’d
Tiny tidbits tease 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 et 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
Lo on this ground are men what feast
Just like me mum on babes of beasts
They think they are the highest thing
When all they are is ground b’ings
They cannot fly like dragons soar
Nor ope they mouths and like us roar
They cannot run like antelope
Nor see in dark like cats do nope
They cannot speak without the word
As beasties do in every herde
They are a kind of lesser beast
For in this world counting us least
They has it wrong of course we know
We beasties do still run the show
While men and wem walks to and fro
Familiars flit, fly and flow
Ay taste for flesh is naught but ill
But men and wem they eat us still
Like dragon mums of long ago
When all there was was snow and snow
And so dragons no more they be
Alas our kind is safe and free