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With Wild And Turquoise Eyes

Dreamed c. 1950 by Joan-Lee Woehler Lasalle

Last night I slew a dragon,
with wild and turquoise eyes
He clanked his coppered scales
Across the startled skies;

Into the deep and feathered dark
Where I, in silence, lay...
He clambered past the paladins
On guard along the way;

The way from night to sunlight,
How did he mount the wall?
Though bright his breast and gallant,
His bones were sculpted small.

"Stand back, stand back, you shall not pass,
No stranger enters through."
And with a lunge and thrusting
I smote his heart in two.

A dragon in flight, in blue dusk; stars coming out. Sketch by Wayan of a dream by Joan Woehler LaSalle. Click to enlarge. And there he lay in silence,
As I upon my bed...
And his mouth was a crimson fountain,
And his chest ran streams of red.

Last night I slew a dragon;
I stopped his terrible heart,
And his sunlit eyes were darkened,
And his scales were torn apart.

And once again the balustrade
Was built a mountain deep,
And mighty stood the guardsmen,
while I lay down to sleep.

But thin the sleep, and shallow.
I heard their warning cries:
"The stars--they are advancing
With wild and turquoise eyes!"

Pencil portrait of Joan-lee Woehler c. 1955, by Marcia Pagels.


Joan regrets, even grieves, at the dragon-slaying. And soon learns its futility. The theme goes back centuries, of course--the Hydra sprouting new heads. In Joan's dream, killing the dragon just means that all of Nature now becomes dragonlike, besieging her ego's citadel.

Jung's advice, of course, was to invite the dragon in and ask what it wants. But that's hard to do with a sharp sword in hand and knights watching--for habit and convention and others' expectations can prod one as sharply as dragon-claws.

So often, we give in, and slay our dragons. To our grief.


Joan-lee was for decades a drama teacher in Healdsburg and Santa Rosa, California; but she wrote this much earlier, while a student at Stanford around 1950. She included it in a book of poems she made for her friends, one of whom was my mother (who drew Joan's portrait, right.)

In 2007, long after Joan's death, my mom found the book. Knowing my interest in dreams, she gave it to me. As far as I know it's Joan's only surviving dream-record (and if I'm wrong, please email me! I'd like to read more of her dreams.)

I was startled by its content because I'd had a bizarre dream (and this is me saying bizarre!) about Joan, called Grampa has Spoken), that associated her with a small, fierce but friendly dragon. Yet I dreamed it years before I knew her dream-poem existed.

--Chris Wayan

LISTS AND LINKS: dragons - violence - swords - self-defense? - death - guilt - oops! - stubbornness - revenants (the dead returning) - Jungian shadows - dream poems - individualism vs conformity

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