Sleep is the gift of gifts! most prized! most sweet!
The grant of mercy from offended heav'n!
The golden sceptre of the King of kings!
Nature's great fold, where, all who enter in,
The fierce, the strong, the wretched, and the vile,
Are by its mystic influence, made lambs!
Sleep is a shadow to eclipse the mind--
A sombre veil, that shrouds its dazzling light,
To give it greater lustre when withdrawn;
A sea of fathomless nonentity,
Wherein the senses bathe their weary pow'rs,
And noble reason quaffs refreshing dews!
'Tis the ruling spirit of mortality,
The friend of toil, and opiate of all care!
The soft embrace of a fond mother's arms!
The downy folding of an angel's wings!
The wine and oil, to strengthen intellect!
The atmosphere of balm-bestowing rest
To cheer the fainting heart oppressed with grief!
The spirit's Eden uncontaminate,
Where dreamy fancies range in heav'nly dress,
And the soul, all unfettered, tastes of bliss!
How on its velvet couch we love to sink,
And quit the dearest joys for its repose!
How, when distressed and wounded by the world,
We seek its leathean pool, and, weary,
Court its balsamic wave our sores to heal!
Has earth alone this mild oblivious pow'r?
Does the moon sleep? The stars? The burning sun,
With its untiring motion, pomp, and glare?
No! 'tis this fair and ruined world that owns
Its bland dominion; as a willing slave,
Who hugs the chain of her captivity,
And loves the despot lord that fetters her!
When this bright planet from its glory fell,
And its heavenly guardians were recalled,
One, touched with pity, sought Jehovah's throne,
And pleaded to remain invisible,
To soothe the pains and penalties incurred;
And to portray in visions of the night,
That bliss to man his sin had forfeited;
To be restored but when the gates of death
(Those massive portals to eternal day)
Should open wide, and let the wand'rer in;
And the Omnipotent, with gracious smile,
Listened to the angel's pray'r, and bade him
Go in peace, and nought his pow'r should quell!
'Tis said, that then the earth first raised her eyes,
All drooping on the ground, and wet with tears,
And, with a look of dimpling freshness, shook
Her radiant locks, dimm'd, and soiled with dust,
And with a glow that heightened all her charms,
Knelt to her heav'nly guest, and bowed her head;
And wheresoe'er the angel treads, she feels
The soft sensation still her throbbing heart,
And steep her sorrows in forgetfulness!
Thus sleep has ever since had sov'reignty,
And none can ever lose, or wish to lose,
Its gentle sway, all potent! all divine!