November 7, 2011

Cranch: one in the Land of Sleep

The November 7, 1885 issue of the New York-based weekly The Critic included a poem by Christopher Pearse Cranch. Cranch was a minister-turned-Transcendentalist who alternated his career as a writer and artist. His poem "The Two Dreams" was later referred to by one critic as "one of his more subtle and imaginative bits of verse."  When published in The Critic, it coincidentally followed an article on American Art galleries.

The poem is unusual for Cranch in many ways. For one, it is written in the voice of a woman and it also expresses an atypical sentimentalism for Cranch. Many of his other works are humorous or philosophical, often employing nature and scenery for metaphorical purposes. "The Two Dreams":

I met one in the Land of Sleep
   Who seemed a friend long known and true.
I woke. That friend I could not keep —
   For him I never knew.

Yet there was one in life's young morn
   Loved me, I thought, as I loved him.
Slow from that trance I waked forlorn,
   To find his love grown dim.

He by whose side in dreams I ranged,
   Unknown by name, my friend still seems;
While he I knew so well has changed.
   So both were only dreams.

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