A DREAM ON INISHMAAN.
Some dreams I have had in a cottage near the Dun of Conchubar,
on the middle Island of Aran, seem to give strength to the opinion that
there is a psychic memory attached to certain neighbourhoods.
One night after moving among buildings with strangely intense light
upon them, I heard a faint rhythm of music beginning far away from me
on some stringed instrument.
It came closer to me, gradually increasing-in quickness and volume
with an irresistibly definite progression. When it was quite near the
sounds began to move in my nerves and blood, and to urge me to dance
I knew, even in my dream, that if I yielded to the sounds I would
be carried away to some moment of terrible agony, so I struggled to
remain quiet, holding my knees together with my hands.
The music increased again, sounding like the strings of harps tuned
to a forgotten scale, and having a resonance as searching as the strings of
Then the luring excitement became more powerful than my will, and
my limbs moved in spite of me.
In a moment I was swept away in a whirlwind of notes. My breath
and my thoughts and every impulse of my body became a form of the
dance, till I could not distinguish any more between the instruments and
the rhythm, and my own person or consciousness.
For a while it seemed an excitement that was filled with joy: then it
grew into an ecstacy where all existence was lost in a vortex of movement.
I could not think there had ever been a life beyond the whirling of the
The Green Sheaf
At last, with a sudden movement, the ecstacy turned to an agony and
rage. I struggled to free myself, but seemed only to increase the passion
of the steps I moved to. When I shrieked I could only echo the notes of
Then, with a moment of incontrollable frenzy, I broke back to
consciousness, and awoke.
. . . . . . . . . .
I dragged myself, trembling, to the window of the cottage and
looked out. The moon was glittering across the bay, and there was no
sound anywhere on the island.
Synge, J.M. “A Dream of Inishnaan,” The Green Sheaf vol. 2, 1903, pp. 8-9. Green Sheaf Digital Edition, edited by Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, 2021. Yellow Nineties 2.0, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2021. https://1890s.ca/GSV2-synge-inishmaan/