Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE SLEEP, by ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING



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THE SLEEP, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Of all the thoughts of god that are / borne inward unto souls afar
Last Line: "he giveth his beloved sleep."
Variant Title(s): He Giveth His Beloved Sleep;to Sleep
Subject(s): Bible; Death; Jews; Religion; Sleep; Dead, The; Judaism; Theology


Of all the thoughts of God that are
Borne inward unto souls afar,
Among the Psalmist's music deep,
Now tell me if that any is,
For gift or grace, surpassing this, --
"He giveth his beloved sleep"?

What would we give to our beloved?
The hero's heart, to be unmoved, --
The poet's star-tuned harp, to sweep, --
The patriot's voice, to teach and rouse, --
The monarch's crown, to light the brows?
"He giveth his beloved sleep."

What do we give to our beloved?
A little faith, all undisproved, --
A little dust to overweep,
And bitter memories, to make
The whole earth blasted for our sake,
"He giveth his beloved sleep."

"Sleep soft, beloved!" we sometimes say,
But have no tune to charm away
Sad dreams that through the eyelids creep;
But never doleful dream again
Shall break the happy slumber when
"He giveth his beloved sleep."

O earth, so full of dreary noise!
O men, with wailing in your voice!
O delved gold the wailers heap!
O strife, O curse, that o'er it fall!
God strikes a silence through you all,
"He giveth his beloved sleep."

His dews drop mutely on the hill,
His cloud above it saileth still,
Though on its slope men sow and reap;
More softly than the dew is shed,
Or cloud is floated overhead
"He giveth his beloved sleep."

Ay, men may wonder while they scan
A living, thinking, feeling man
Confirmed in such a rest to keep;
But angels say, and through the word
I think their happy smile is heard --
"He giveth his beloved -- sleep."

For me, my heart, that erst did go
Most like a tired child at a show,
That sees through tears the mummers leap,
Would now its wearied vision close,
Would childlike on his love repose
Who "giveth his beloved sleep."

And friends, dear friends, when it shall be
That this low breath is gone from me,
And round my bier ye come to weep,
Let One, most loving of you all,
Say "Not a tear must o'er her fall!"
"He giveth his beloved sleep."




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