The Lonesome Dream

By Lisel Mueller b. 1924 Lisel Mueller
In the America of the dream
the first rise of the moon
swings free of the ocean,
and she reigns in her shining flesh
over a good, great valley
of plumped, untrampled grasses
and beasts with solemn eyes,
of lovers infallibly pitched
in their ascendant phase.
In this America, death
is virginal also, roaming
the good, great valley
in his huge boots, his shadow
steady and lean, his pistol
silver, his greeting clear
and courteous as a stranger’s
who looks for another, a mind
to share his peaceable evenings.
Dreaming, we are another
race than the one which wakes
in the cold sweat of fear,
fires wild shots at death.,
builds slippery towers of glass
to head him off, waylays him
with alcohol traps, rides him down
in canyons of sex, and hides
in teetering ghost towns.
Dreaming, we are the mad
who swear by the blood of trees
and speak with the tongues of streams
through props of steel and sawdust,
a colony of souls
ravaged by visions, bound
to some wild, secret cove
not yet possessed, a place
still innocent of us.

Lisel Mueller, “The Lonesome Dream” from Alive Together: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 1996 by Lisel Mueller. Reprinted by permission of Louisiana State University Press.

Source: Alive Together: New and Selected Poems (Louisiana State University Press, 1996)

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Poet Lisel Mueller b. 1924

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Race & Ethnicity

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Lisel  Mueller


Poet and translator Lisel Mueller was born in Hamburg, Germany in 1924. The daughter of teachers, her family was forced to flee the Nazi regime when Mueller was 15. They immigrated to the US and settled in the Mid-west. Mueller attended the University of Evansville, where her father was a professor, and did her graduate study at Indiana University. Her collections of poetry include The Private Life, which was the 1975 Lamont . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Race & Ethnicity

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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