In the quintessential book on dreams, The Interpretation of Dreams, Sigmund Freud introduces the idea that activity in our unconscious mind can be interpreted. Freud theorizes that dreams are forms of wish fulfillment or an attempt by the sleeping mind to produce a solution from unresolved issues, past and present.
The virtuous man contents himself with dreaming that which the wicked man does in actual life.
The Greek philosopher and playwright Aristotle observed,
The most skillful interpreters of dreams are they who have the faculty of observing resemblances.
He believed in the metaphoric ability of our dreams to connect and transfer meaning. Another Greek scholar, Artemidorus, the author of Oneirocritica, the first modern dream dictionary, said
Dream interpretation is nothing other than the juxtaposition of similarities.
Every night during sleep, each of us creates around five dream episodes. These dreams can last between fifteen and forty minutes. This means we spend about two hours every night, dreaming. With over seven billion people on the planet, we collectively create about 35 billion dreams in any 24-hour period.
All of these dreams mirror fundamental patterns of human behavior. Some of the most common dreams and their possible meanings are:
- Teeth falling out
Dreams about your teeth can reflect your anxieties about appearance and others perception of you.
- Naked in public
Being naked in a dream symbolizes not being able to find yourself, uncertainty, or being wrongly accused.
Having a difficult time flying in a dream suggests that someone (or something) is stopping you from moving to the next stage in life.
If you fall anywhere and are overcome by fear, it may signify insecurity about a situation.
- Finding an unused room
If you stumble upon a new room in your dreams, it could denote new outlooks and abilities you have realized about yourself.
Think back on a particularly memorable dream. Was it a happy dream or a terrifying one? Write a poem on what you believe the dream meant. Create vivid imagery and use vibrant words.
Thanks to everyone who participated in our poetry prompt. Here is a poem from Rick we enjoyed:
Photo by Eve. Creative Commons via Flickr.
Browse more writing prompts
Browse poetry teaching resources
How to Write a Poem uses images like the buzz, the switch, the wave—from the Billy Collins poem “Introduction to Poetry”—to guide writers into new ways of writing poems. Excellent teaching tool. Anthology and prompts included.
“How to Write a Poem is a classroom must-have.”
—Callie Feyen, English Teacher, Maryland
- Poetry Prompt: Misunderstood Lion - March 19, 2018
- Animate: Lions & Lambs Poetry Prompt - March 12, 2018
- Poetry Prompt: Behind the Velvet Rope - February 26, 2018
With its eyes I see the mountains
pulse under a heart of sky,
in slow rhythmic oscillations.
I listen to the leaves—
those that fall, those that persist
on their dichotomy of stems—
in a wind that is nearly silent,
not like the hidden fingers on a harp,
but rather those of the guitarist
moving unapologetically up and down
the frets, so that into the music
she weaves the agony of callouses.
Dissection never reveals the whole.
The fragile rings hide their stature,
as the trees mock their seasons,
brandishing their rattling bassinets
in Spring and in the throes of Autumn
drop their dappled dress exposed.
There are memories that hold me
here, fibers that vibrate from my searching
for the words to describe them,
words, like houses made of trees,
that let the winds play at their doors,
and let the windowed light know where I am.
—by Rick Maxson