Poetry in Space — The Fall of Hyperion

Book Keeper's Library Crew

Abraheim’s room seems quiet as you approach it. As you get closer, you hear slight stirrings and slow, rhythmic breathing. You poke your head in the door and see the old man fast asleep, head tilted back, mouth slightly open. He is in his chair with papers and books scattered around him — a familiar sight. Abraheim looks peaceful, and as you quietly enter the room, you debate whether or not you should just let him sleep. But, before you have a chance to decide, a stack of books near the old man topples to the ground and startles him awake.

His whole body jumps in his chair in a jerking motion and his head wheels around, trying to locate the origin of the disturbance. Then he sees you. He now seems suddenly apathetic to what just happened and gives you a beaming smile.

“I was dreaming.”

He begins to straighten some of the papers and books on his desk.

“Do you remember your last dream?” He pauses.

“Do you assign any significance to them?”

“Sometimes I feel  the things we dream allow us to experience life past its own limitations. Dreams can be a gateway to another world, just like a good story. Most of the time, mine are just a bunch of nonsense with no apparent rhyme or reason.”

“This was the beginning of a new branch of the Hyperion rabbit hole that I have been consumed with the past weeks.”

He hands you a copy of The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons, he then produces a transcript of the poem The Fall of Hyperion: A Dream by John Keats.

“These two works of literature are almost 200 years apart, but they share a name, and it is not coincedence. The connections between these two works are many. Some connections can be seen easily on the surface with just a glance. Others require you to delve a little deeper into both of the works, and an understanding of one helps enrich the experience of reading the other. Or so I have found.”

He begins reading the poem aloud.

“Fanatics have their dreams, wherewith they weave

A paradise for a sect; the savage too

From forth the loftiest fashion of his sleep

Guesses at Heaven; pity these have not

Trac’d upon vellum or wild Indian leaf

The shadows of melodious utterance.

But bare of laurel they live, dream, and die;

For Poesy alone can tell her dreams,

With the fine spell of words alone can save

Imagination from the sable charm

And dumb enchantment. Who alive can say,

‘Thou art no Poet may’st not tell thy dreams?’

Since every man whose soul is not a clod

Hath visions, and would speak, if he had loved

And been well nurtured in his mother tongue.

Whether the dream now purpos’d to rehearse

Be poet’s or fanatic’s will be known

When this warm scribe my hand is in the grave.”

“The poem continues on. I will not try to fool you into thinking I knew what all of this meant at first glance. It did take some analysis and outside help to understand the nuances — but the core idea is fairly apparent, I believe. All men dream, both in slumber and in vision, but a poet is able to communicate those dreams before they fade into distant memory or are forgotten entirely”

“As I have mentioned before, I think, in the Hyperion Cantos, there is a character that is a cybrid reincarnation of the romantic poet John Keats. A creation of the AI TechnoCore, one of the antagonists of the series, he inherited the poet’s personality and many of his memories. This is somewhat of a meta-connection, if you will, but it along with the title of the book, solidifies the connection between to two works, and provides a catalyst for all of the other connections to follow. In Hyperion, Keats appears in the backstory of Brawne Lamia, his female human lover and member of the Shrike pilgrimage group the first two books center around. Near the end of the first book, a part his consciousness is implanted into his lover’s mind. This character is also pregnant with the cybrid Keats’s child. In the second book, Fall of Hyperion, the remaining part of the cybrids Keats’s consciousness is reincarnated as another cybrid named Joseph Severn.”

Abraheim produces a large parchment that looks like a tangled web of names of book, people, and characters. Some parts of the parchment have small portraits attached to them.

“In small piece of the story there are already two connections between Keats and his life, and the book. The character Brawne Lamia is named for Keats’s real life lover Fanny Brawne. The man who he is reincarnated into in the second book, Joseph Severn, was actually a good friend of Keats and helped take care of him before Keats died.”

The old man takes a breath, preparing himself for what he is about to say next.

“Here is where the connections begin to run deeper. While the poem talks about the role of a poet and dreamer in the world, the book illustrates this idea through the Keats/Severn character. While not being present with the group of pilgrims who began their pilgrimage to see the Shrike on the planet Hyperion, he recounts their actions to the reader and to other characters near him though recounting his vivid dreams to the reader. His connection with Brawne Lamia allows him to dream what she sees while he is asleep.”

“The book doesn’t necessarily read like a dream would, although I admit I do not know exactly what that would read like, but it is made apparent nonetheless. This is another connection between the book and poem, because in the poem the subject goes into a deep sleep in which he dreams for the remainder of the poem.”

“Herein lies another connection! In the poem, the subject is greeted by a goddess, Moneta, who proceeds with him through most of the poem. Moneta is also an enigmatic character in both Hyperion and the Fall of Hyperion. She is connected to the pilgrims in many ways, which I will not reveal as it would ruin one of the best reveals of the books.”

“Imagery and themes, not just characters, also appear in both the poem and the book. The connections are many, and reveal much about the novel, and the author himself. Throughout the book Severn/Keats must decide what his role is to be in the events unfolding in the universe, much like how the subject of the poem ponders the role of a poet. This is possibly the biggest and deepest running connection between the two works. This connection alone makes it worth a read.”

He stands up, sighs, and smiles.

“Honestly, I could not give a higher recommendation for a series of books. Please let me know if you ever read them so that we may discuss them further. And I still have two more to read!”

Abraheim begins walking towards the door.

“I know you are busy, and do not wish to keep you from your business longer than needed. Thank you again for stopping by.”

“Until next time, my friend.”