A Dream - Synopsis and commentary

Synopsis of A Dream

A Dream

The speaker, evidently a child, recounts a dream. In it, s/he was lying on the grass and saw a sad, weary ant which is lost. S/he hears the ant's lament for her husband and children whom she knows will have been searching for her and crying over her loss. The child wept to hear this. A glow-worm then appeared who said he was the night watchman. He gave light to the beetle on his patrol who would lead the ant home.

The poem draws on the pastoral genre in the content of a dream. It describes harmony within the natural world and conveys a child's ability to be compassionate and close to creation.


There are a number of dark elements to A Dream - exhaustion, tears, loss, separation of parent and child, anxiety etc. However, the poem encompasses two aspects of innocence:

  • A capacity for universal compassion, combined with a sense of the unity of all creation
  • The use of imagination as a retreat from awareness of vulnerability and anything negative.

Investigating A Dream

  • Do you think this poem is escapist or should we only see it as a celebration of a child's capacity for compassion?
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