Dream words for the Midwinter

The following magical phrase is made of ‘dream words’, Tamaghis ba’dan yaswadda waghdas nawfana ghadis. The language is Aramaic which is the Semitic dialect spoken by Jesus.  It can be spoken before falling asleep (‘after obtaining freedom of the inner senses and finding one’s way clear’) when the person should then mention what he or she wants, and the thing asked for will be shown to him in his sleep.
(pg. 83, The Muqaddimah, An Introduction to History).

I found this phrase and the information about it in the notes in the back of Brian Turner’s incredible collection of contemporary war poetry Here, Bullet. I’ve been trying out saying the words to myself before I sleep, trying both to shape and to understand what I dream about. On waking I find I have had memorable and vivid dreams and often about something I am trying to write. If I forget to say the words I find that I tend not to remember the dreams!

So…I was thinking the first night of the new year would be a significant night on which to do this. The long nights of winter still to come mean we are less far from dreams than at other times of the year and maybe our dreams hover near us throughout the short days. Fire-light and candle-light bring us closer to and make us aware of our most basic needs … our son chopping us a store of kindling for our winter fires, the annual gifts of socks and gloves to keep us warm through the coming months (because as the saying goes, as the days grow longer, the cold grows stronger.)  

For reading in January, I have ordered Bernadette Mayer’s book-length poem Midwinter Day and I can’t help myself sensing the connections:

A long story without pausing
I was racing no one approved of what I was learning,
I saw a woman’s daughter, we met on the stairs
I saw everything that was ever hidden or happening
I saw that my daughters were older than me
But I wanted to see further


About Rebecca Gethin

Rebecca Gethin is a poet and a novelist. Cinnamon Press published her third collection, All the Time in the World in 2017. Another pamphlet is forthcoming with Three Drops Press. Her second novel, What the horses heard, was published by Cinnamon Press in May 2014. Her second poetry collection - A Handful of Water - was published by Cinnamon in 2013. Her first - River is the Plural of Rain - was published by Oversteps Books in 2009. Her novel Liar Dice won the Cinnamon Press Novel Writing Award in 2010 and was published in 2011. She lives on Dartmoor and writes occasional pieces about wildlife and nature. Her poems appear in a variety of poetry magazines and in several anthologies.
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5 Responses to Dream words for the Midwinter

  1. Hilary Jupp says:

    Dear Becky, just to thank you for these insights into creativity, I always enjoy particularly the nature notes, all best wishes for the coming year.

    • Oh, that is v nice to hear from you, Hilary. Thanks v much. And Happy New Year to you. ( Um, er might you be interested in the poetry afternoons by nay chance ?? Or is it too far for you?) Much love Becky X

  2. This is lovely, Becky. I’ve tried to say the phrase and would love to try saying it before sleep but not sure I’ll get it fixed in my head! Happy New Year. Hope 2013 is healthy and productive.

  3. E.E. Nobbs says:

    This is a magical piece of writing. Thanks Becky. I will try working with your gift of magic words and with my dreams. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. See you in 2013. Elly xxx

  4. Val says:

    I’ll look forward to more posts about this from you. Happy new year to you and your family, Rebecca.

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