Last Night as I Was Sleeping: May Write From Your Life

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May is a time of blossoming, and in that blossoming, we can sometimes find new uses for our old inclinations, or in the case of poet Antonio Machedo, sweet honey from our old failures. Machedo, born Antonio Cipriano Jose Maria y Francisco de Santa Ana Machedo y Ruiz, lived from 1875 to 1939, leaving us his legacy of poetry, and as one of the leading figures of the Spanish literary movement called Generation of ’98. Important in his own time, some of his poetry feels as close in time as just last night, particularly his poem, “Last Night as I was Sleeping.”

Last Night, as I Was Sleeping

Last night, as I was sleeping,
I dreamt — marvelous error!—
that a spring was breaking
out in my heart.
I said: Along which secret aqueduct,
Oh water, are you coming to me,
water of a new life
that I have never drunk?

Last night, as I was sleeping,
I dreamt — marvelous error!—
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.

Last night, as I was sleeping,
I dreamt — marvelous error!—
that a fiery sun was giving
light inside my heart.
It was fiery because I felt
warmth as from a hearth,
and sun because it gave light
and brought tears to my eyes.

Last night, as I slept,
I dreamt — marvelous error!—
that it was God I had
here inside my heart.

Write your own “Last Night as I Was Sleeping” by simply beginning with that phrase and seeing what comes. Or take a line from this poem that speaks to you and use it as a diving board into your own writing. For example, you could start with a line as Machedo’s as the main focus of your poem, such as “a spring was breaking out of my heart” or “sweet honey from my old failures,” and then unfold what meaning comes to you. You could simply think of any marvelous error in your life — something that seemed so wrong at the time and turned out so right in the long run — and write that story. Follow the secret aqueducts in your own life to see what you discover in your dreams and in your poems.