Dream of the Makarys

This magnificent poem, Lament for the Makarys (“makers”: poets) is spelled in an attempt to reproduce Scots pronunciation:

He has Blind Harry and Sandy Traill
Slain with his schour of mortal hail,
Quhilk Patrick Johnstoun might nought flee:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.

He has reft Merseir his endite,
That did in luve so lively write,
So short, so quick, of sentence hie:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.

It starts with an evocation of mediaeval life, with Death taking even the baby, “at his mitheris breast sowkand” or sucking, sparing no laird for his piscense (puissance) and then lists the friends Dunbar has lost.

But it ends like many English poems with a resurrection:

Sith for the deid remeid is none
Best is we for death dispone
After death that live may we

But as in Shakespeare it’s all in the words. We have no image of life after death, indeed the phrase is impertinent as far as Death is concerned.

But: as in the case where a dream we have before morning seems a strong image before we awake, and we’re dazzled… but the dream palaces dissolve and we’re only left as in Lacan with a word or two…a word with you (I love you, I had this dream, I forget it but I was crying in it and it had you in it, you know what I mean, Babe? Do you know what I mean?)

Dreams do that, they dissolve, for Caliban in the Tempest, who “cried to dream again” and Bottom in The Midsummer Night’s Dream, who could not remember his dream.

What was your dream?

A Scotsman was telling me about poets who died.

You mean like the Dead Poets Society?

Something like that.

And somehow that reminded me of you.


Yeah, you.

But you’re the poet, sweetie. You write, I read, I never say a word.

Yeah I know, but dreams occlude and we’re one body, remember?

I do. ‘Deed I do.


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