Poets have always drawn inspiration from the wild fancies of dream life. We spend a third of our lives asleep, and throughout history our nocturnal visions have engaged the interpretive talents of our greatest writers.
This treasury of poets–Sidney, Donne, Blake, Keats, Wordsworth, Whitman, Rilke, Plath, Graves, Roethke, Bishop, Moore, Updike, and many more–encompasses lullabies, invocations, aubades, songs, epigrams, and stories, in every conceivable mood from the broadly comic to the tragic. It includes poems about daydreams and nightmares, about falling asleep and about waking up, about insomnia, night thoughts, monsters of the dark, twilight, dawn, and the rebirth of morning. From Auden’s “Lullaby” to Rossetti’s “Nuptial Sleep,” from Salvatore Quasimodo’s “Insomnia” to Thom Gunn’s “Annihilation of Nothing,” Poems of Sleep and Dreams evokes the whole haunting, magical spectrum of sleep and dream.