Dream of:05 February 1997 "Winston Churchill's Poem"
It was after three o'clock in the morning when I received a telephone call, waking me from my sleep, from Winston Churchill. Churchill told me he was coming right over to see me. I got out of bed and by the time he arrived I was dressed and ready to meet him.
We sat down and Churchill began talking. He was probably in his 50s and dressed in a black suit with a white shirt. He quickly came to the point, telling me he wanted me to do something for him. He explained that earlier in the evening he had gone to the White House and had had a meeting with president Bill Clinton. Now he wanted me to return to the White House and take some papers to Clinton. As he spoke, I was awed by his presence. An aura of power seemed to surround him, even though I noticed his hands shook as he held the papers. The shaking didn't seem to be from fear or nerves, but as if he simply had so much energy that he couldn't contain it all.
I was honored to have been chosen for this task and I didn't delay in my mission. Placing the papers inside a large flat hardcover book, I immediately departed and in no time arrived at the White House. I walked through the open front gates and entered the front door of the White House. I marveled that no one had stopped me and that no guards were in sight. But I thought that surely I must be under surveillance, and that my arrival must have been expected.
I finally found myself in a sort of reception room from where I could see Clinton sitting at a desk in the adjoining room. Clinton seemed busy with something, but finally he appeared to pause in what he was doing. Seeing the opening, without introduction, I walked into the room and stood beside the president. The front of his desk was pushed up against the wall, so I couldn't stand in front, but had to stand by his side.
Clinton acknowledged my presence and I quickly began talking. I realized that he was a busy man and that it was very late at night, but when he heard why I had come, he clearly wanted to hear what I had to say. I placed the book on the desk and opened it up to the where the papers were. Only now, as I began to pull out the papers, did I realize I wasn't at all clear what the papers contained. What was worse, it seemed that Churchill had given me certain instructions regarding the papers, but I had forgotten them. Thus, as I handed the papers to Clinton, I was afraid I might have bungled my mission.
Clinton, however, once he began looking at the papers, seemed to have an idea of what was going on. Clinton first looked at two pieces of writing paper, each with hand-writing on them. One page was a letter addressed to me, a letter which apparently contained my instructions.
The second paper, however, was the heart of the matter. It was a hand-written poem, a poem to a woman named "Eileen Crater." Clinton held the poem in his hands and began reading. The meter of the poem, like Clinton's voice, was solemn and ponderous, like a pounding hammer. I stood mesmerized as the powerful words struck and faded into my consciousness. It was a thing of power, written by a man of power, read by a man of power. It didn't matter that I understood little or nothing of the words themselves – I could feel the power of all that was happening.
When Clinton was finished, I could see that he was likewise moved by what he had read. Clearly the poem was a love poem from Churchill to Eileen Crater. Clinton, however, like I, had no idea who Eileen Crater was. But Clinton did know what Churchill wanted. Clinton explained to me that Churchill wanted him (Clinton) to take the hand-written poem and have it framed. Clinton indicated he would be honored to do so.
I realized I still had some other papers in the book which Churchill had given me. Actually they weren't papers, but sheets of postage stamps, about 20 different sheets, with each sheet having a different design. I noticed the stamps on one sheet had the initials "F.D.R." on them. Again I was afraid I hadn't followed my instructions, because I couldn't remember what Churchill had told me about these stamps. But I pulled them all out and handed them to Clinton, who seemed to understand why they had been sent to him. Clinton took the papers, and indicated he would take care of everything. I asked him if he would contact me when the poem had been framed, and he said he would. I also asked him if at that time he would be able to give me the letter which had been addressed to me. It seemed to me that that letter, since it was addressed to me, should be returned to me. I thought it was a piece of history, and I would like to keep it. Besides, a hand-written letter by Winston Churchill had to be valuable. I was happy when Clinton said I could have the letter once the poem had been framed.
I realized my time with Clinton was drawing to a close. But I still wanted to say something to him about how I had felt when I had been with Churchill. Clinton seemed as if he wanted to hear my report, and I said, "It was like being in a war room when the bombs were coming in or when war had been declared. The power just emanated from him."
Clinton, being a man who wielded such enormous power himself, seemed to understand what I had felt. For myself, I felt moved for having had the opportunity to have been in the presence of two such powerful men. But I could see it was time to go. It was already after five o'clock in the morning. I was amazed that Clinton was still up working, and I was impressed that he was able to function with so little sleep. I walked around behind him, intending to leave, but then I stopped on the other side of him, held out my hand and said, "Good-bye, sir."
He took my hand and shook it. It was the first time I had ever shook hands with a president, and I knew this was something I would always remember. When we finished, I turned and walked out of the room.
I walked past several people now sitting in the reception room. As I passed them, I noticed I was barefoot, not even wearing socks. But it didn't much matter to me. I had just been to see the president, and he hadn't minded. I didn't see how anyone could criticize me.
Just as I passed the last person, I thought I heard someone say, "Good-bye." The voice sounded familiar, and I turned around, still continuing to walk. I was surprised to see my ex-wife Louise sitting there glancing at me with a slight smile on her face. I certainly hadn't expected to see her here. I wondered what she must think, seeing me walk barefoot out of the office of the president. Surely she must be impressed, even if I were barefoot. But I wondered what she was doing here.
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