Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, SLEEP, by JAMES WELDON JOHNSON



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SLEEP, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: O sleep, thou kindest minister to man
Last Line: Since death be but an endless, dreamless sleep?
Subject(s): Dreams; Night; Rest; Nightmares; Bedtime


O Sleep, thou kindest minister to man,
Silent distiller of the balm of rest,
How wonderful thy power, when naught else can,
To soothe the torn and sorrow-laden breast!
When bleeding hearts no comforter can find,
When burdened souls droop under weight of woe,
When thought is torture to the troubled mind,
When grief-relieving tears refuse to flow;
'Tis then thou comest on soft-beating wings,
And sweet oblivion's peace from them is shed;
But ah, the old pain that the waking brings!
That lives again so soon as thou art fled!

Man, why should thought of death cause thee to weep;
Since death be but an endless, dreamless sleep?





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