What was it you haunted so far that we
must dream of it always, dying of our dreaming?
And of what other state do you speak so low
that we cannot remember it?
This poem has haunted me for as long as I can remember. I never knew who Seferis was, until I read this line in a Gujarati book by Suresh Joshi. I have been burdened with this haunting, surreal image. How can four lines do that? And to think, these are translated from Greek; I do not know by whom. What would the original, the Bergsonian absolute, do to one weak of the will or too open to the beauty of the word?
What was it that she haunted, not what she was haunted by. A strange thought. What can one haunt? And what does one have to be to do the haunting? All our hauntings are in the dreams, may be also the wakeful ones. Dying of our dreaming. How did the dream become the shared dream? How did I enter the dream that I did not dream? And why must we dream of things that haunt us?
Borges writes, "They read in the first chapter of the Torah: “God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” So it seemed obvious to them that in the word “light” there lay a strength sufficient to cause light to shine all over the world, a strength sufficient to engender, to beget light." And Manguel, speaking on Borges, says, "In the letters of the rose exists the rose and the entire Nile in the word Nile."
The word 'haunt' comes from Old French hanter meaning "to frequent, visit regularly". Like our old haunts in places that we have long forgotten, frequented with friends long lost. How strange, or perhaps appropriate, that our old visitations take the meaning of dangerous encounters. What can be more dangerous than our own memories? Of all the places that can be haunted, our dreams are the most welcoming. Dreams welcome the phantoms and the ghosts, as if inviting them in to our home.
If the word has the power to transform, what demons can a dream raise? What can the dream make us remember, and far more importantly, make us forget? We dream more to forget the hauntings of our "real" world. And perhaps we may die of it.
Perhaps 'haunt' comes from Old Norse heimta which means to "bring home".
The stories that we banish from memory, the regrets that linger in the waking dreams, the fears that lurk in the most unsuspect corners, and the wandering reveries in the midnight noon; they all find respite in the haunted dream.