Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, SLEEPING AND WATCHING, by ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING



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SLEEPING AND WATCHING, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Sleep on, baby on the floor
Last Line: With reveille holy.
Variant Title(s): The Child And The Watcher
Subject(s): Babies; Sleep; Infants


Sleep on, baby, on the floor,
Tired of all the playing;
Sleep with smile the sweeter for
That, you dropped away in.
On your curls' full roundness stand
Golden lights serenely;
One cheek, pushed out by the hand,
Folds the dimple inly;
Little head and little foot
Heavy laid for pleasure,
Underneath the lids half shut
Slants the shining azure.
Open-soul in noonday sun,
So you lie and slumber;
Nothing evil having done,
Nothing can encumber.

II

I, who cannot sleep as well,
Shall I sigh to view you?
Or sigh further to foretell
All that may undo you?
Nay, keep smiling, little child,
Ere the sorrow neareth;
I will smile, too! patience mild
Pleasure's token weareth.
Nay, keep sleeping before loss:
I shall sleep though losing!
As by cradle, so by cross,
Sure is the reposing.

III

And God knows who sees us twain,
Child at childish leisure,
I am near as tired of pain
As you seem of pleasure.
Very soon, too, by His grace
Gently wrapt around me,
Shall I show as calm a face,
Shall I sleep as soundly.
Differing in this, that you
Clasp your playthings, sleeping,
While my hand shall drop the few
Given to my keeping;
Differing in this, that I
Sleeping shall be colder,
And in waking presently,
Brighter to beholder:
Differing in this beside--
(Sleeper, have you heard me?
Do you move, and open wide
Eyes of wonder toward me?)--
That while you I thus recall
From your sleep, I solely,
Me from mine an angel shall,
With reveille holy.





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