The Poem

(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

The Dreamer is lamenting his terrible loss, a loss which only one physician might heal. He lost his beloved lady, either through rejection or through death. In either case, the Dreamer is unable to sleep, fearful that death might come upon him. There seems to be no hope for him.

He decides to pass a lonely night by reading in a collection of tales, and there he finds the story of King Ceyx and Queen Alcyone. When Ceyx sailed away, his wife waited patiently yet eagerly for his return, but she was unaware that his ship was caught in a storm and all hands were lost. As the days went by, Alcyone began to despair, and, like the Dreamer, she was unable to sleep and finally prayed to Juno for relief. Juno sent a messenger to the god Morpheus, who inhabited Ceyx’s drowned body and told Alcyone of his death. Alcyone died four days later of despair.

The Dreamer regrets Alcyone’s pain but responds to the story of the god of sleep, Morpheus, and he imagines what rich gifts he will give to that god if only he will confer sleep upon him. In fact, his head begins to nod and he falls asleep over his book. He is instantly transported to a dream landscape. It is May; the flowers bloom, rivaling the stars in the sky in number. The fairies make their abode in the forest, and the whole place resembles a landscaped garden.

The Dreamer finds himself in a beautiful chamber filled with paintings and glazed windows that tell stories of love and romance. Then suddenly he is outside, watching the Emperor Octavian in a royal hunt. The hounds find the scent, but the hart is clever and escapes the dogs. The hunt is recalled, but the Dreamer, stationed by a tree, finds one of the young, untrained dogs coming up to him. He follows the whelp, which takes him deeper into the woods. The forest is beautiful,...

(The entire section is 741 words.)