December 5th, 2007


Jean Ingelow Quote

weather: cloudy
outside: 7.2°C
mood: content
    Sell thy kingdom for a dream.

I thought that was a really cool quote. Before I saw the context, it resonated with me in a few ways.

I read it as talking about leaving your comfort zone and taking a risk to move forward. To be protected, like within a walled fortress city with turrets, patrolling guards in chainmail, the occasional knight wearing polished plate armour on horseback, is to be safe. But it's also very prescribed and sometimes going outside that is a good thing.

I thought it could also be about leaving behind baggage to freely persue an interest or passion. A kingdom is a huge responsibility. Sometimes, it's an unwanted responsibility of an heir apparent or an actual reigning monarch. There are countless stories of unwilling royals escaping from it, even if only for a moment.

A kingdom could just be a metaphor for material possessions. Wealthy and affluent people (royalty or not) usually have a lot of stuff. They usually have more than they really need which can be considered wasteful.

Contrasted with "kingdom" is "dream". A dream is intangible, much like thoughts, ideas, attitude, knowledge, experience, intellect, wisdom, compassion, understanding which are much more important.

The quote is actually from The Sleep Of Sigismund, Verse 23 in Volume II of Jean Ingelow's poetry collection. In context, I'm not sure that line is such a positive thing. But often, these things mean what they will to the audience.

I found her quite at random. I was googling for poetry quotes. I didn't find what I was looking for, but this came up instead.

Jean Ingelow is very interesting and her work sounds very interesting. She is the daughter of a banker and was a highly accomplished writer and poet of the Victorian era. She was very well known in Britain and the United States. There was a petition to name her the successor to her friend Lord Tennyson as Poet Laureate at one point.

She's not very well known in our day. Something about her being too conformist at a time when individualist ideals were The In Thing™, which is rather unfortunate.