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Mike Sutton
Mike Sutton
Dr Mike Sutton is the author of 'Nullius in Verba: Darwin's greatest secret'.
Posted in Science / Social Sciences / Sociology

Debunking the 'Dreamscape' Myth

Oct. 11, 2014 10:16 am

<a href=""> Photo Manipulation, Nature, Countryside, Vegetable dreamscape - free computer desktop wallpaper. </a>Attribution

The Dreamscape Myth is Bust

Myth: The popular Poet Sylvia Plath is widely believed at the time of writing (11 October 2014) to have coined the word 'dreamscape' (e.g. Jones 2013) in her 1958 poem “The Ghost’s Leavetaking.” Plath is considered one of the 20th century’s most important female writers.

Plath (1958) wrote:

Enter the chilly no-man's land of about Five o'clock in the morning, the no-color void Where the waking head rubbishes out the draggled lot Of sulfurous dreamscapes and obscure lunar conundrums Which seemed, when dreamed, to mean so profoundly much,”

Big Data Strikes Again

The ability to search the 30+ million books in Google's Library Project with the new Big Data ID research method (See Sutton 2014) once again reveals a hidden publication that busts yet another etymological fallacy. Because the word 'dreamscape' was in actual fact used by another poet, mysteriously named only Adee, 82 years earlier than Plath - in 1876. See E. S. Martin (1876, p. 46)

I rested in a ruined meeting-house,

and phantoms of the generations gone,

Came round me; reveries to arouse,

Of all the phases to which flesh is born,

Soon sinking as a dreamscape out of view,

The congregation, choir and preacher fade,

And but remain the antiquated pew,

And empty pulpit broken and decayed.

Call me a doggerel lover philistine if you will, but I rather prefer the unpretentious simplicity of the newly re-discovered verse to Plath's.

NOTE: The OED gets us back even further - to 1858


Jones. P. (2013) Haggard Hawks and Paltry Poltroons: The Origins of English in Ten Words. London. Constable and Robinson.

E. S. Martin (1876) Whether is better to old or the new? The Ladies' Repository, Volume 36 Page 430.

Sutton. M. (2014) Nullius in Verba: Darwin's Greatest Secret. Cary. ThinkerMedia Inc.

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