Thymophor in dreams, poetry, art and memory:
Emotion translated into imagery as a basic element of human creativity
Ernest Hartmann MD
Professor of Psychiatry, Tufts University School of Medicine
Keywords: dream, dreaming, poetry, art, memory, thymophor
Contact Ernest Hartmann MD
27 Clark Street, Newton, MA 02459
Abs: The word thymophor (from thymo: emotion and phor: carrying over) is introduced here. It refers to the carrying-over, or translation, of emotion into imagery, which we find is an important element in human creativity. This paper starts with dreaming: my collaborators and I have studied the Central Image (CI) of the dream over many years, and shown that the CI is driven by, and in the simplest case pictures, the underlying emotion of the dreamer. This is an instance of thymophor. The center of a poem, which TS Eliot calls the Objective Correlative, play the same role: it pictures the underlying emotion. We go on to find thymophor in painting, music, and other arts . Thymophor appears to be a basic element in our creative activity.
This paper then discusses metaphor, a basic part of human thought, occurring everywhere, though especially prominently in dreams and poetry. We find that metaphor is understandable only when emotion is considered: emotion chooses or drives the metaphor to be used: thus, again, thymophor, a picture-metaphor driven by and carrying the emotion. A brief experiment in autobiographical memory is presented, suggesting that the moments that leap out in memory are recalled as imagery, but imagery that is driven by heightened emotion, once more: thymophor. Finally, an outline of the probable brain biology of thymophor is discussed.
This paper will discuss a number of approaches to a basic element of human creativity, the translation of emotion into imagery, which we call “thymophor.” Much of our experimental work has dealt with dreaming. Though some consider dreams to be confused nonsense, my collaborators and I have concluded that every dream is a creative product, and that the dream – especially the central imagery of the dream -- depends on turning emotion into imagery .+ We can arrive at thymophor from a number of different starting points.
Starting with the dream
Thus we will start with dreaming. A whole series of our studies on the nature and functions of dreaming began with the Tidal Wave Dream.
I’m walking along a beach with a friend, I’m not sure who, when suddenly a huge wave, maybe forty feet high, sweeps us away. I struggle and struggle in the water. I’m not sure whether I’ll make it to the surface. Then I wake up.
This dream, or something very like it, is common in people who have recently experienced a trauma of any kind (Barrett 1996, Hartmann 1998, Hartmann et al, 1998, Hartmann et al., 2001;). I have heard it from victims of rape or attempted rape, victims of attacks, from people whose close relatives or friends were killed or attacked, and from people who have barely escaped from a burning house or car.
My associates and I consider this dream especially important, in fact paradigmatic, because it lets us see so clearly what is going on. The dream does not picture the actual traumatic experience – the burning house or the rape. It pictures the powerful emotion of the dreamer – “I am terrified. I am overwhelmed.” Similar tidal wave dreams have been reported after many kinds of trauma, for instance after a devastating fire in Oakland, CA by Siegel (1996). The dream image is not always literally a tidal wave; we have examples of images such as being swept away by a whirlwind, or being chased off a cliff by a gang.
Most dreams of course are not so straightforward. The simple picturing of an emotional state seems to occur most when there is a single powerful emotion present, as in someone who has just been traumatized. Terror is perhaps the most straightforward emotion in these situations, but there are others, which are also pictured in dreams, for instance vulnerability. Here are some dreams in which vulnerability appear to be pictured:
I dreamt of a small animal lying in the road bleeding.
Several of us were wandering around on a huge plain. There was no shelter. There was rain beating down on us. We had no place to go. We were all lost and helpless.
There were shellfish creatures, like lobsters or crayfish, lying there with their shells torn off, all white and pink and very exposed.
Guilt, especially survivor guilt, is a very powerful emotion, often pictured in dreams. For instance, a man who escaped from a burning house, in which a family member had died, dreamt:
I dreamt of a fire somewhere, in a house very different from our actual house. In the dream my brother and everyone else escaped, but I was still in the house getting burned when I woke up.
Sadness or mourning is also frequently portrayed very clearly. Here are dreams from two different dreamers in the week after their mothers’ deaths.
There was an empty house, empty and barren, the furniture all gone. All the doors and windows were open and the wind was blowing through.
A huge tree has fallen down right in front of our house. We’re all stunned.
In all these cases, the dream, and especially the central image of the dream seems to be picturing, very clearly, the emotions of the dreamer (Hartmann, 1998, 1999, 2011). Sometimes the dream involves a long story, with multiple scenes. However if there is one powerful image, or a few, these will usually be carrying the underlying emotion.
All the above of course are only examples, or “anecdotal evidence,” illustrating rather than demonstrating a point. We then went on to see whether we could develop actual research evidence for this view of dreams.
We then attempted to study quantitatively the tidal wave image and similar powerful central images. We first called the image a “Contextualizing Image” (CI) since it appeared to provide a “picture-context” for the emotion of the dreamer (Hartmann, 1996; Hartmann et al., 1997; Hartmann et al., 1998). However this term was found unwieldy and confusing by some, so the image is now called simply the Central Image, keeping the abbreviation CI. A scoring sheet for the CI has been developed (figure 1) (Hartmann et al, 1997, Hartmann et al, 1998) which can be used on any written or recorded dream report. It has now been used in over fifty different research studies.
Fig 1 About here
The scorer, who knows nothing about the dreamer or the circumstances surrounding the dream, looks at a dream report and first decides whether or not there is a scorable Central Image. If there is (this turns out to be the case in 50 to 60% of dreams scored) the scorer jots down a few words describing the image, and then scores the intensity of the image on a seven-point scale (0, 0.5, 1.0, 1.5, 2.0, 2.5, 3.0) based on how powerful, vivid, bizarre and detailed the image seems. (“0” means no CI and “3” means about as powerful an image as you have seen in dreams.) The scorer then tries to guess what emotion or emotions, from a list of emotions provided, might be pictured by this image.
Central Image Intensity (CII) turns out to be an especially important measure. Although it is of course a subjective judgment by the scorer, there is good agreement between scorers -- inter-rater reliability of r = .70 to r = .90 (Hartmann, et al. 1998; Hartmann, et al. 2001, Hartmann, Zborovsky, et al. 2001). We will discuss a number of studies showing that Central Image Intensity (CII) is related to the power of the underlying emotion.
Since there are eighteen emotions to choose from, it has been more difficult to obtain good inter-rater reliability on the individual emotion pictured by the dream imagery. However there is quite good agreement between raters when emotions ( fig 1) are grouped into three categories: 1) fear/terror and helplessness/vulnerability; 2) other negative emotions (#s 3-10 on rating sheet); 3) all positive emotions (#s 11-18) (Hartmann, et al. 2001).
First we showed that, on a blind basis, CII is rated higher in dreams that in daydreams ( Hartmann et al., 2001) as expected. We also found, as expected, that CII is higher in content from REM awakenings than from non-REM awakenings, which in turn score higher than material from waking periods (Hartmann and Stickgold, 2000). We then went on to look at whether CII is related to emotion and the power of the dreamer’s emotion.
Several studies looked at “Big dreams” (Jung’s term for powerful dreams that remain with the dreamer for years). We operationalized “big dreams” in several ways. In one study we found that CII is rated higher in “dreams that stand out” than in “recent dreams” from the same persons. (Hartmann et al., 2001) Likewise CII is scored higher in dreams characterized as “ the earliest dream you can remember” than in “recent dreams” (Hartmann and Kunzendorf, 2005-2006). Thus CII appears to be high in dreams that are remembered and are presumably emotionally important.
In one study, we examined dreams called “important” by the dreamer. A group of 57 persons each sent us a recent dream they considered “important” and a dream they considered “unimportant” or less important. CII was significantly higher in the “important” dreams (Mean for Important dreams 1.19, mean for Unimportant dreams 0.81. Difference = .38, S.D. 1.048; t = 2.78, p < .007) (Hartmann, 2008).
We also studied one group of “especially significant” dreams. A group of 23 students very interested in their dreams each submitted one “especially significant” dream in a report by by Dr. Roger Knudson(2001). The mean CII in these 23 dreams was 2.62 (mean of two experienced raters). This is the highest mean CII score of any group we have seen, much higher that means of recent dreams in various groups. These students did not supply a “non-significant dream for a direct comparison. However, comparing these “highly significant” dreams with our largest group of recent dreams, from 286 students, we found a highly significant difference: (Mean for Significant Dreams 2.62, S.D. 0.48; mean for recent dreams 0.75, S.D. 1.03. t = 16.0, p < .0001) (Hartmann, 2008).
Dreams that were considered “big” in the sense of leading to a scientific or artistic discovery ( Barrett, 2001) likewise were scored as having unusually high Central Image Intensity ( Hartmann 2008).
We went on to examine trauma and stress – situations involving strong and mainly negative emotions. We found that CII is higher in Ss who have suffered a recent trauma than in those who have not (Hartmann, et al. 1998; Hartmann, et al. 2001). We also found CII to be higher in the recent dreams of students who checked off on a questionnaire that they had suffered either physical or sexual abuse at any time, than in students who checked off no abuse (p < .02)(Hartmann, et al. 2001).
Trauma and abuse are difficult to study systematically, since the trauma is different in each person, and the methods of dream collection differed as well. Therefore we conducted a more systematic study, using 9/11/01 as a day that we considered to have been traumatic or at least very stressful for everyone in the United States. We found a number of people who had been recording all their remembered dreams for years, and were willing to send us twenty dreams – the last ten they had recorded before 9/11/01 and the first ten dreams after 9/11. Our first study involved 320 dreams from 16 subjects before and after 9/11/01. When the code was broken, we found that the “after” dreams had significantly higher CII than the “before” dreams (p < .002). Somewhat to our surprise, the “before” and “after” dreams did not differ on length, “dream-likeness”, “ vividness”, or presence of towers, airplanes or attacks. CII was the only measure that clearly differentiated the after dreams vs. the before dreams (Hartmann and Basile, 2003).
Subsequently we expanded the study to 880 dreams from 44 subjects (Hartmann and Brezler, 2008). Again, in the larger sample, CII was significantly higher in dreams after 9/11 (p < .001). This confirms our earlier studies finding higher CII at times of stress or emotional arousal. With the larger N there was now a slight but significant increase in content involving “attacks”, though there was still no before vs. after difference on the other measures.
In addition to the finding of increased CI intensity after trauma, abuse, or after 9/11, there was also a shift in the ratings of “emotion pictured by the CI” towards the first two emotions on the list (Fear/terror and helplessness/ vulnerability, which can be called the “nightmare emotions”). This shift was usually statistically significant, but was not as clear-cut and dramatic as the increase in CII – probably because of the difficulty in scoring and reaching agreement on the exact emotion pictured.
This group of studies show that the power of the Central Image of the dream appears to be related to the strength of the underlying emotion – increasing in situations of increased emotion. And, after trauma or stress, when the emotions felt can be presumed to be negative, the negative emotions, especially fear/terror and helplessness/vulnerability, were rated as being pictured by the Central Image.
We also examined this view of dreams as imagery picturing powerful emotion in a different way. We suggested that perhaps sleep and REM-sleep, though the usual place for dreams, were not absolutely necessary. If a dream was made of imagery driven by powerful emotion, could we introduce these conditions in waking persons and produce a dream or something like a dream?
In fact this is exactly what we found. Forty-four students in a classroom setting were each asked to write down four things, in a balanced order, after appropriate instructions: 1) a recent dream; 2) a recent daydream; 3) a daydream or reverie allowed to develop right there in class, in a relaxed state, with no other instruction than to let imagery develop; and 4) a daydream or reverie allowed to develop in a relaxed state, after they had chosen an emotion that felt close to them and had been instructed to intensify the emotion, allow it to envelop them and become as strong as possible. All the written material was examined on a blind basis, and rated on standardized scales of “dream-likeness” and “bizarreness.” Results showed that material written under condition 4 (imagery while experiencing emotion) was rated significantly more dreamlike and more bizarre than material from conditions 2 and 3, and was rated almost exactly as dreamlike and bizarre as condition 1, the recent dream (Hartmann and Kunzendorf, 2000; Hartmann, et al. 2002-2003). Thus the CI paradigm – imagery under intense emotion – can produce a dream, or very dream-like material, even in the waking state.
Overall, these quantitative studies convinced us that the CI is driven or guided by the dreamer’s underlying emotion, and in the clearest cases the CI straightforwardly pictures the emotion, as in the tidal wave dream.
Recently, Kunzendorf and Veatch (2013) have developed a new way of approaching the central imagery of the dream. They asked their study participants, who were digital art students, to picture their dreams digitally. This is an intriguing way to examine the CI of the dream directly, bypassing the verbal dream report and the scorer. They came up with striking images in 100 dreamers, which I believe were the Central Images of their dreams, though that term was not used. The authors also studied the importance of underlying emotion in these dreams: they found that the students could clarify the meaning of their dreams and images by focusing on the underlying emotion.
In addition to the quantitative studies of CIs, summarized above, we find that in a rough way we can explain a number of the most common dreams as an emotional state translated into a clear central dream image ( thymophor). Here are some emotional states and dreams which may be familiar to the reader
Emotional state: I’m just three (or two, or four) years old. I’ve been pretty well treated. So far I assumed that I was the center of the world, but now I’m beginning to notice that the world is actually run by large creatures who are much more powerful than I am. These creatures act friendly most of the time, but they’re unpredictable. Once in a while they yell or fight or hurt me or make demands of me that I can’t understand. It’s scary at times.
Dream: I’m being chased by a big monster (this is the most common dream at that age).
What is a monster, basically? It‘s a large, powerful, unpredictable creature.
Emotional state: I’m a bit anxious. People think I’m competent, but I’m not sure. I feel a bit lost. I’m not sure I can manage all this stuff.
Dream: I can’t find the classroom / I haven’t studied / I’ve studied the wrong subject / I can’t read the exam, etc. (These “typical exam dreams” are among the most common dreams in adults -- at least in adults who’ve been to school in developed nations.)
Emotional state: Things are going quite well, in fact: I’m getting married soon/ starting a new job/ moving to a nice new area. But I’m worried. Others seem so much more confident. They know what they’re doing but I don’t.
Dream: I’m naked/ half naked/wearing a torn dress/ dressed in rags/ while other people are more fully and appropriately clothed. (This is another very common dream in adults.)
There are some situations that produce a very expectable group of emotions. For instance, we have gathered many dreams from pregnant women expecting their first child, though we have not studied the Central Images in a quantitative way. The most complete series of such dreams, including the examples below, are in an excellent work by Patricia Maybruck (1989) . Such dreams have also been collected by Garfield (1988), Van de Castle ( 1994). Many of the dreams picture clear emotions and emotional concerns, which differ with the stage of pregnancy.
The dominant concerns early in pregnancy generally revolve around “what is happening to my body?” which includes “will I still be attractive?” and the dreams reflect this through changes of shape and increases in size of the self and other objects or animals; the dreams also involve large disfigured creatures. There were many reports of dreams such as this:
“I was attending some kind of show or concert. I was real fat; I looked like a blimp. The guys were all laughing and admiring these really cute girls on stage. No one paid attention to me.”
Later concerns arise about what will this thing, this baby, actually look like which then leads to innumerable dreams of small and then large creatures - sometimes monsters or strange ill-formed things - portraying these concerns of the dreamer. Here are two such examples:
“I go out the back door of my house and I see, in the neighbor’s yard, their pet dog with many small black animals. They are a triangular shape, a kind I never saw before. They are playing with some rats on a little hill of dust.”
“There, sitting between my legs, was this naked little boy... his face was like an old man’s and there were fangs coming out of his lips."
And towards the end of the pregnancy, the woman’s primary concern becomes whether or not she’ll be able to handle motherhood, and child-rearing. Here are some of these dreams:
“Our apartment was invaded with mice, lizards, rabbits, kittens, puppies. They were coming in the windows and front door. I couldn’t stop them and they were messing up everything.”
“Someone left a box full of baby chicks on our doorstep. I was busy and they died before I had time to take care of them.”
These dreams clearly picture the woman’s concerns that she'll be overwhelmed and be unable to care properly for her child.
My impression from reading many such series of dreams during pregnancy is that these very clear emotion-picturing dreams are found especially in first pregnancies, in stable young women who are basically happy to be pregnant, and in whom the pregnancy is the most important thing in her life. However, in later pregnancies, unwanted or not-definitely-wanted pregnancies, or pregnancies which are only one of many ongoing issues for the woman, the emotional state is more complicated, and likewise the dreams.
In these many examples and situations, we have again seen that the CI of the dream pictures the dreamer’s underlying emotion or emotional concern. Again thymophor -- translating emotion into imagery.
I have discussed in detail elsewhere ( Hartmann 2010a, 2011) the fact that the dream does not simply replay waking events; it always combines things, adds something new. This is true even in so-called recurrent or repetitive dreams, and even in PTSD dreams ( Hartmann 2010a). Thus the dream is always a creation, not simple replay. This is exactly the encyclopedia definition of creating a work of art. “The creation of a work of art is the bringing about of a new combination of elements in the medium. The elements existed beforehand but not in the same combination; creation of is the re-formation of these pre-existing materials.” (Nash, 1986). And, at least for the last two hundred years, we have usually added a bit: “ …. Combining old material in new ways, guided by the artist’s emotion. Thus the dream can be considered a work of art, or at least the beginning of one. Let us go on to see whether we can find the thymophor in the more recognized forms of art as well.
Starting with Poetry
Starting with film might be easiest, since we often feel that dreams are like movies, and film has been called the most oneiric ( dreamlike) of the arts. But I’d like to start with poetry, where the similarities may not be so obvious.
Ordinarily poems and dreams live in quite separate rooms of our mental mansions. However, I will argue that a poem, at least a short memorable poem, is actually very like a dream. I am not referring to poems that supposedly arrived fully formed from a dream, such as Coleridge’s Kubla Khan. I am referring to a basic similarity in the creation of dreams and poems.
The similarity I want to emphasize involves the Central Image (CI), discussed above. A poem too, surprisingly often, contains a powerful Central Image that pictures an emotional state. I suggest that what T.S. Eliot calls the “objective correlative” of the poem, or other work, is more or less identical to what we have called the Central Image of the dream. (1917) He introduces the term:
“The only way of expressing emotion in the form of art is by finding an ‘objective correlative’; in other words, a set of objects, a situation, a chain of events which shall be the formula of that particular emotion.”
The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms (2008) defines objective correlative as “an external equivalent for an internal state of mind; thus any object, scene, event, or situation that may be said to stand for or evoke a given mood or emotion.”
Eliot cites his own lines in “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”:
I should have been a pair of ragged claws,
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
as the objective correlative picturing Prufrock’s emotional state of social shyness. Of course, the first lines of Eliot’s poem:
Let us go then you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table.
are also an objective correlative, though they picture a harder-to-define emotional state, that might be called a state of unease, or disturbance.
Another of the greatest poems of the 20th century – Yeats’ “ The Second Coming” -- is built on two dramatic objective correlatives, or Central Images. It begins:
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?
These CIs pictures an emotional state that could be called something like concern, turning to powerful apprehension, approaching dread.
Clearly not all poems contain a clear-cut objective correlative or CI. But not all dreams do either. So let me narrow the field a bit: first of all, I believe we are speaking of short poems, and in fact the dreams we have discussed are short dreams too. Both the dreams and the poems can usually fit on one or two pages in written form – occasionally three or four. I cannot deal with book-length poems, and luckily there are few or no book-length dreams. (I’m speaking of literal dreams, not literary dreams in which a long narrative is framed as a dream or vision).
Ezra Pound (1934) defined three major aspects of poetry: Melopoieia refers to the sound, the music of poetry; phanopoieia to the imagery; and logopoieia to the sense or meaning. The correlation we are discussing, linking dreams and poems, works best for short poems, and obviously it emphasizes the imagery: the phanopoieia.
Let’s examine some actual poems. Since the boundaries of “poetry,” “good poetry,” “real poetry” are notoriously difficult to define precisely, I shall consider only well-known poems, poems recognized over time as “good” or “great” poems. We might call these “big poems” -- analogous to “big dreams,” following Jung. And I’ll try to stick with relatively short “big” poems.
Short image-dependent poems, then. My impression is that memorable, impactful, “big” short poems, almost always contain one or more CIs, as we found in big dreams. There’s always more than that, to be sure. The image is built of words, and the words have both a sound and a sense, which ideally blends so well with the imagery that a single entity is formed. Everything comes together.
First of all I want to look at some great and memorable poems that clearly do contain one or two powerful central images. Leafing through anthologies, and through the anthology in my head of poems I have read and remembered convinces me that quite a number of the great short poems of the English language do appear to work in this way. I’ll start with the 20th century, and briefly mention some poems of previous centuries
We’ve already mentioned two of the great poems of the past 100 years: The love song of J. Alfred Prufrock by Eliot and The Second Coming by Yeats, each of which have powerful central images. Here is Robert Frost’s: Stopping by woods on a snowy evening.
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
The image is supreme here. But of course it is integrated with the music and the meaning. The words and the rhythm are so gentle, so song-like, that the narrator (and we the reader) are pulled into the image of the snowy woods and are tempted to stay (death? suicide?) until our harness is softly pulled, by the all-important word “but,” and we return slowly to life, to our lives.
Here are some others, among the greatest short poems in English, going back from the 20th century to Shakespeare. I hope they are familiar enough to the reader so that I can cite the titles and need not include the complete texts here.
William Carlos Williams: The Red Wheelbarrow
Wallace Stevens: Of Mere Being
Thomas Hardy: In the Time of the Breaking of Nation
Wilfred Owen: Strange Meeting
Sylvia Plath: Tulips
Matthew Arnold: Dover Beach
Emily Dickinson: There’s a certain slant of light
Walt Whitman: O Captain! My Captain!
Percy Bysshe Shelley: Ozymandias
John Keats: Ode to a Grecian Urn
William Blake: The Tyger
William Shakespeare: Sonnet 73 (That time of year thou mayst in me behold)
I cannot talk of each poem in detail. My point is that these famous poems are written in a variety of very different poetic styles and traditions, yet each of them depends on one Central Image, or a few , which carry the emotional power.
Can all poetry be characterized in this way? No, certainly not. First of all, as mentioned, really long poems can hardly be viewed as depending on one central image. Some of the best known classic long poems such as Lucretius’s De rerum Naturae, or Horace’s long odes on agriculture, are basically logopoieia, and they are didactic, meant to teach the reader. Modern readers hardly consider these to be poems, but rather essays or treatises, written in verse.
Other long poems, such as Dante’s 100-canto Divina Commedia are quite different. Dante’s work is unquestionably poetry, often considered the greatest or one of the greatest poems of the Western world. The work is bursting with imagery, but it is impossible to pick out a single powerful image, because there are so many. If each canto is considered as a separate short poem, then indeed one, or sometimes two or three, central images can easily be found.
Similarly in Fitzgerald’s famous long poem ( or loose translation) “The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam,” a central image is prominent in almost every verse or group of verses. For instance here is a marvelous image of fate:
“The Moving Finger writes: and having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”
So I am definitely restricting the discussion to short poems, or short chunks of long poems. This is not so different from the situation with dreams. It is very difficult to deal with the occasional very long dream that occasionally show up in research or clinical material. The researcher or student gives up on these, or if necessary divides them into short chunks – as though the long dream were a series of short dreams. So we are dealing with short poems, and short dreams.
Admittedly, not all short poems involve a powerful central image. Many popular short poems depend heavily on a solid rhyme scheme and ease of recall. And often a simple lesson. This is usually the case in poems for children. For instance here’s a short poem, recited by coaches to millions of American children and teenagers, and often remembered by many who hardly read poetry at all.
When that Great Scorer comes
To put a mark against your name,
He will score not whether you won or lost,
But how you played the game. ( Rice, 19--)
(Grantland Rice from Alumnus Football, 1932)
Such poems, though very well known, are certainly not considered among the world’s great poems. I have gone through lengthy anthologies of “light verse” and “humorous verse” as well as poetry for children and found innumerable such examples. These poems contain a lesson, an aphorism, or a joke ( logopoeia) , and they rely for their effect on the sound– an easy and regular rhyme scheme (melopoieia) They almost never very seldom contain striking Central Images ( phanopoieia).
Thus in my perhaps prejudiced view the great short poems -– the ones I call the “big short poems” -- almost always contain a central image, and in this way they are closely related to “big “ short dreams.” In both cases thymophor, the translation of emotion into imagery, is prominent.