What happens when you wake up?

Given the way the days are unfurling, I’m finding this Martin Carter quote from my childhood less inspiring than I used to. Maybe someone will say something about the necessity of “dreaming big” before starting anything but in the aftermath of Kony 2012, I find the concept of dreaming to change the world a little lazy and arrogant. Even if you had a dream machine flipped to the nth power of world peace, dreams don’t solve problems.

Maybe he should’ve said “strategise to change the world” but then that would have nothing to do with sleeping. Not to mention it throws the whole verse off. I don’t even get the jump from not sleeping to dream but dreaming to change the world. Shouldn’t it be not sleeping to dream but sleeping to … whatever? I think I’ve stared at this verse too long.

What does it mean to you?


6 thoughts on “What happens when you wake up?

  1. I don’t remember my dreams – probably a side effect of being a pot smoker… However, I’d have to agree, the quote does not make a whole lot of sense in the first place. Otherwise, well, I think its not so much the dreaming that makes any change, but the sharing of dreams, that have potential for making change. All in all though, I guess we sleep to give our brain and soul time to communicate, and let our body rest – so that we can work on our dreams in our waking life? Wow, I’m so full of shit – I don’t do shit about my dreams, since I don’t remember them :p

  2. Oh dear… Wait – do I believe in souls? I dunno, I do believe in the subconcious, and this, perhaps, is more along the lines of what I mean… And I do also think there is something to the idea of shared consciousness – although I would have a hard time proving this. That said, I’m pretty sure there is lots that goes on during our sleep, and that whatever is going on helps us to not get too overloaded and overwhelmed with the petabytes+ of information that go through our heads daily…

  3. Consider the this extract from the poem in context:

    I have learnt
    from books dear friend
    of men dreaming and living
    and hungering in a room without a light
    who could not die since death was far too poor
    who did not sleep to dream, but dreamed to change
    the world.

    And so
    if you see me
    looking at your hands
    listening when you speak
    marching in your ranks
    you must know
    I do not sleep to dream, but dream to change
    the world.

    My interpretation: Dreaming is normally a mere by-product of sleep, but which can be a welcome activity particularly for those under any sort of constraint. The poet (as a revolutionary) is different because he, despite the restrictions, continues to think of ways of changing the world (“dream”) by human action.

    There is no “waking up” from this type of dream.

  4. Reblogged this on The Michael Lam Collection's Blog and commented:
    Krysta recently posted this, and I think that everyone has a different interpretation when reading poetry.
    Martin Carter wrote poems that spoke to the heart of Guyanese and West Indians, and when we read his poems we can relate intimately most times.
    When I read that line “I do not sleep to dream, but dream to change the world”, I am reminded of something else that I had heard; we can each in our own small way bring change to the world, but do not look globally, look rather at the small portion of the world that is around you, and do something small to make a difference. Smile at a fellow pedestrian on the street, open a door for someone you don’t know, tell a policeman on the road “Good Morning Officer, have a nice day”.
    Mother Theresa did not try to change the World, she just started on one street in Calcutta.

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