I admit, it’s been a long time since I’ve talked about Poe on this blog. And while I’ve discussed two of his short stories (The Masque of the Red Death and The Black Cat), I’ve never dealt with his poetry on Just Dread-full before. In fact, I haven’t read his poetry (or, you know, his Poe-etry), in quite some time, and I certainly haven’t read it all. I was consulting my mental rolodex of Poe poems that I have read, with the aid of a little online research, but I wasn’t finding “the right one” to write about today. Then it occurred to me – something I always try to remember with this blog – that horror is an expansive category that includes many works of art that don’t mirror our contemporary definition of horror (for example, I’ve been wanting to explore some of the earliest Gothic novels for a while, but haven’t done so yet.) As such, I decided to write about Poe’s poem, “Dream Within a Dream.” This poem is fascinating because, if one really grapples with the implications and philosophical underpinnings of what Poe suggests, the prospect is, indeed, terrifying. On the other hand, the poem has a rich, sonorous voice and is mesmerizingly beautiful. To me, such a combination is both a phenomenal achievement and a hallmark of much of Poe’s poetry: The ability to leave us remarkably unsettled (and often sad) while producing a poem that is unusually aesthetically appealing. Continue reading “The Just Dread-Full Poetry Corner: The Understated Horror of “Dream Within A Dream””
After reading several First Fright posts on the always wonderful Just Dread-full site, I thought about my first fright and how I could write about it. Some of the previous posts have been lighthearted in looking back at what scares us as children, but in my case it is somewhat misleading as my first fright is an ongoing issue with me. I am a sleepwalker who nightmares regularly. To say I have sleeping issues is an understatement.
I have always been a sleepwalker, starting when I was a preschooler. Within the first hour of sleep, I would be up and walking. I never went far, or did anything foolish, but I sometimes moved out of my room to sleep on the floor elsewhere and would have odd stories to explain why. My parents would escort me back to my room and that was that. But then my dreams took a detour as I got a bit older, and creepy creatures invaded. Continue reading “What Scares Us? Nancy of Graphic Novelty² shares her First Fright- Nightmares of Spiders and Rats!”
I love folksy beliefs. Chief among those that interest me is the belief that if you die in your dream, you really die. I don’t imagine this is true, because I have died in my dreams, and I’m still here to relate the experience. Sometimes in my dreams, I don’t merely die; I’m already dead. But Charles Beaumont taps into this fear of dream-death in his short story “Perchance to Dream,” which is also the name of the collection of short fiction the story appears in. Beaumont, one of the most influential Twilight Zone writers, died of Pick’s disease (and, possibly, early-onset Alzheimer’s) at age 38, but his contributions to the horror and science fiction genres are nonetheless abundant. This is the first of his works I’ve read, but with the compilation Perchance to Dream safely in my hands, I intend to read many more. Continue reading “To Read “Perchance to Dream””
Reading E.F. Benson’s “Caterpillars” tonight harkened me back to a summer night three years ago. I was in my bedroom on a balmy evening. I was living with my parents because I was a poor grad student. My parents usually turned the air conditioning on, but that night they didn’t and the stifling heat seemed to devour the wind that was trying to creep through my window. I fell asleep nonetheless, and when I woke up in the middle of the night, there was the shadow of a man standing above my bed. Mind you, this was before I re-kindled my childhood fascination with horror and that perhaps illusory world between life and extinction. So my mind wasn’t primed to see phantoms the way it theoretically would be now. I remember distinctly seeing the outlines of the books on my bookshelf behind the figure. I felt very much “there.” Everything looked real. Continue reading “It Was All A Dream: Or Was It?”