O Sleep! would that thou'dst seek my lonesome bed;
Night deepens, I am wearied watching now;
For I have vainly wooed thee till my brow
Is in a fever'd flame, and aching head
Feels as the downy pillow were a stone.
Go leave me, Thought, that Sleep may fill thy stead--
I fain would wile her from her starry throne--
Fair Sleep! mind-soothing, soul-bewitching Sleep!
Come, fair enchantress, I would with thee speak--
O come, and fan this fever from my cheek:
I now with Thought no more communion keep;
Be not afraid, fair spirit, to alight;
Thy breath will soothe me into slumbers deep;
My weary brain hath need of them tonight--
Sweet Sleep! thou'rt sweeter than the breath of May;
Her dew is not so sweet as thou, nor are
The moorland zephyrs, coming from afar,
Sucking the breath of wildflowers by the way.
Thou art so pure we cannot see thy form;
And thou art softer than the moonlight-ray:
Thou gladd'st the soul, as Cynthia doth a storm--
Loved Sleep! methinks I feel thee o'er me hover,
Thy seraph wings expanding to descend:
They fan me now, their balmy wavings blend
Along my brow; strange elf-light things come over
My fancied sight: now thought's unmeaning train
Runs through my mind; and, like a spell-bound lover,
I am enslaved with a bewitching chain--
Deep Sleep! now thou art sitting on my breast;
Mine eyes thou'st seal'd with kisses sweet, and they
Have stolen my very senses all away.
No more my brain, with aching thought oppress'd,
Beats sore; for now alike to bliss or woe
'Tis dead: thou'st stretch'd my frame in death-like rest--
I know not that I am, thou'st changed me so--
* * *
Strange Sleep! thy first, fond, warm embrace is o'er,
And thou art but a flimsy tissue now:
Thou'rt flitting o'er my breast and round my brow--
A fairy thing! And, like the sounding shore,
Afar, far off, a noise comes in my ear:
I sleep, and yet I know it; and the lore
That haunts my brain, seems truth--and yet, how queer!
Go, Sleep--sweet thing! I pray thee go away:
A faint light streaks my eye-lids and they ope';
I look far o'er the ocean's endless scope--
A red rim hems my view--and lo! tis day.
Small sleep sufficeth young, so pray thee go!
My limbs feel strength renew'd, and morning's ray
Sheds o'er my heart a light and lively glow--
Kind Sleep! thanks for thy much loved company,
Thou sweet, soft-soothing, wonder-working thing!
For thou dost bear me 'neath thy downy wing
To youth's dear home, afar in yon country,
Where love and friendship live, and fireside bliss:
And many a joy I taste 'ere thou dost bring
Me back again o'er the blue sea's abyss--
Just Sleep! thou art the poor man's dearest friend:
Wealth cannot buy thee; and the wealthy man,
Restive with rest, is sleepless oft, and wan;
But labouring Poverty thou aye dost tend:
And thou o'er virtuous hearts kind watch dost keep;
Thou dost o'er slander'd Innocence descend,
But shunn'st its slanderers--truth-loving Sleep--
Spirit Sleep! were I to hear Philosophy
Tell what thou art, I would not list the tale;
For thou might'st be a thing of earth--too frail
The object of our airy thoughts to be.
I'll heed not what thou art in Science deep,
But take thee as thou art in Poesie--
Thou darling of the fancy--dreamy Sleep!