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Poems About Sleep

Table of Contents

  1. Sleep by John B. Tabb
  2. Good-Night by Laurence Dunbar
  3. A Good Sleep by Anonymous
  4. Sunset by Anonymous
  5. The Song of the Wind in the Cloud by Ellen Rolfe Veblen
  6. Sleep is supposed to be by Emily Dickinson
  7. Insomnia by Amos Russel Wells
  8. Insomnia by John B. Tabb
  9. Slumber-Song by John B. Tabb
  10. Don't Wake the Baby by Anonymous
  11. Asleep by Emily Dickinson
  12. Unwarned by Emily Dickinson
  13. "He Giveth His Beloved Sleep" by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
  14. At Nightfall by Albert Phelps
  15. I Met at Eve by Walter De la Mare
  16. Now the Day is Over by Sabine Baring-Gould
  17. Dream-land by Christina Rossetti
  18. Bed in Summer by Robert Louis Stevenson
  19. The Moon by Robert Louis Stevenson

  1. Sleep

    by John B. Tabb

    When he is a little chap,
    We call him Nap.
    When he somewhat older grows,
    We call him Doze.
    When his age by hours we number,
    We call him Slumber.

  2. Good-Night

    The lark is silent in his nest,
    The breeze is sighing in its flight,
    Sleep, Love, and peaceful be thy rest.
    Good-night, my love, good-night, good-night.

    - Paul Laurence Dunbar
    Good-Night
    by Paul Laurence Dunbar

    The lark is silent in his nest,
    The breeze is sighing in its flight,
    Sleep, Love, and peaceful be thy rest.
    Good-night, my love, good-night, good-night.

    Sweet dreams' attend thee in thy sleep,
    To soothe thy rest till morning's light,
    And angels round thee vigil keep.
    Good-night, my love, good-night, good-night.

    Sleep well, my love, on night's dark breast,
    And ease thy soul with slumber bright;
    Be joy but thine and I am blest.
    Good-night, my love, good-night, good-night.

  3. A Good Sleep

    But fill the day with labor, Ned.
    And work with all your might,
    For that will fill the hardest bed
    With softest down, at night.

    - Anonymous
    A Good Sleep
    by Anonymous

    You do not need a bed of down
    To give you sleep at night.
    A counterpane of pink and brown
    And pillow soft and white

    You do not need a pretty room
    All dressed in dainty blue.
    Where soundest slumber-health may come,
    With pleasant dreams, to you.

    But fill the day with labor, Ned.
    And work with all your might,
    For that will fill the hardest bed
    With softest down, at night.

    And if you want a counterpane
    With many colors gay.
    Not only work with might and main,
    But—add a bit of play!

  4. Sunset

    There they'll all, sweet darlings,
    Lie in the happy dreams.
    Till the rosy morning
    Wakes them with its beams.

    - Anonymous
    Sunset
    by Anonymous

    Now the sun is sinking
    In the golden west;
    Birds and bees and children
    All have gone to rest;
    And the merry streamlet,
    As it runs along,
    With a voice of sweetness
    Sings its evening song.

    Cowslip, daisy, violet,
    In their little beds,
    All among the grasses
    Hide their heavy heads;
    There they'll all, sweet darlings,
    Lie in the happy dreams.
    Till the rosy morning
    Wakes them with its beams.

  5. The Song of the Wind in the Cloud

    by Ellen Rolfe Veblen

    Rock, rock, my hollow boat!
    Sleepy, sighing, swinging boat!
    Woven from the spray of ocean,
    Swan or seamaid taught thee motion!
    Wistfully earth's children muse
    On thy blithe and wayward cruise,
    All too far remote!

    Float, float, my cradle cloud!
    Moonlit goes my pearly cloud;
    Tossing in the silvery spaces,
    Drifting in the dusky places,
    Smiling earth-children see
    How the night enchanteth thee
    For thy voyage proud.

    Sail, sail, my chiming shell!
    Murmuring flies my curving shell,
    Followed by the laughing star eyes —
    Haste! my cavern home afar lies!
    Dreamily earth-children trace
    'Mong the stars thine airy pace,
    Shiver by thy spell.

  6. Sleep is supposed to be

    Sleep is supposed to be,
    By souls of sanity,
    The shutting of the eye.

    - Emily Dickinson
    Sleep is supposed to be
    by Emily Dickinson

    Sleep is supposed to be,
    By souls of sanity,
    The shutting of the eye.

    Sleep is the station grand
    Down which on either hand
    The hosts of witness stand!

    Morn is supposed to be,
    By people of degree,
    The breaking of the day.

    Morning has not occurred!
    That shall aurora be
    East of eternity;

    One with the banner gay,
    One in the red array, —
    That is the break of day.

  7. Insomnia

    by Amos Russel Wells

    My soul is shipwrecked in the night
    Upon a black and vacant shore;
    A flood of murky air before,
    Of surging air to left and right.

    The waves roll in, the waves roll in,
    And each a sombre spectre bears,
    The writhing forms of many cares,
    The coiling forms of many a sin;

    Neglected tasks that frown austere,
    Glimpses of old friends angry, gleams
    Of dead delights and drifting dreams
    And gibbering ghosts of empty fear

    Out on the flood, the faces pale
    Of drowning hopes, so fair, so fair;
    Or, tossing here and floating there,
    The tattered rags of fortune's sail;

    And, wrenched from out that midnight grave,
    The white corpse of a passion sweet,
    Rolled by the darkness to my feet,
    And then snatched back into the wave.

    My eyes are straining through the deep,
    This surging night that has no end;
    Make haste, O pitying Christ, and send
    Thy blessed rescue bark of sleep!

    * * *

    The ship came not but, in its stead
    Its Master stood upon the shore;
    And lo! the waves were black no more;
    And lo! a gleam from overhead.

    He touched my hot and throbbing eyes,
    The Master, with His loving hand,
    And softly on that midnight strand
    There grew the light of paradise.

    Those hateful forms of sin and care
    Flung at me by that ghostly sea,—
    I know not if they ceased to be,—
    I saw them not, for Christ was there.

    Still sleepless stretched the night away,
    But joyfully, for Christ and I
    Together read the opening sky,
    And watched the dawning of the day.

  8. Insomnia

    by John B. Tabb

    E'en this, Lord, didst thou bless —
    This pain of sleeplessness —
    The livelong night,
    Urging God's gentlest angel from thy side,
    That anguish only might with thee abide
    Until the light.
    Yea, e'en the last and best,
    Thy victory and rest,
    Came thus to thee;
    For't was while others calmly slept around,
    That thou alone in sleeplessness wast found,
    To comfort me.

  9. Slumber-Song

    by John B. Tabb

    Lo, in the west
    A cloud at rest—
    A babe upon its mother's breast—
    Is sleeping now.

    Above it beams
    A star that seems
    To shed the light of holy dreams
    Upon its brow.

    But cloud and star,
    Tho' nearer far
    They seem, my Babe, more distant are
    From heaven than thou.

  10. Don't Wake the Baby

    by Anonymous

    Baby sleeps, so we must tread
    Softly round her little bed,
    And be careful that our toys
    Do not fall and make a noise.

    We must not talk, but whisper low,
    Mother wants to work, we know,
    That, when father comes to tea,
    All may neat and cheerful be.

  11. Asleep

    by Emily Dickinson

    As far from pity as complaint,
    As cool to speech as stone,
    As numb to revelation
    As if my trade were bone.

    As far from time as history,
    As near yourself to-day
    As children to the rainbow's scarf,
    Or sunset's yellow play

    To eyelids in the sepulchre.
    How still the dancer lies,
    While color's revelations break,
    And blaze the butterflies!

  12. Unwarned

    by Emily Dickinson

    'T is sunrise, little maid, hast thou
    No station in the day?
    'T was not thy wont to hinder so, —
    Retrieve thine industry.

    'T is noon, my little maid, alas!
    And art thou sleeping yet?
    The lily waiting to be wed,
    The bee, dost thou forget?

    My little maid, 't is night; alas,
    That night should be to thee
    Instead of morning! Hadst thou broached
    Thy little plan to me,
    Dissuade thee if I could not, sweet,
    I might have aided thee.

  13. "He Giveth His Beloved Sleep"

    by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

    Of all the thoughts of God that are
    Borne inward unto souls afar,
    Along 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 his happy slumber when
    "He giveth his beloved, sleep."

    O earth, so full of dreary noises!
    O men, with wailing in your voices!
    O delve'd gold, the wailers heap!
    O strife, O curse, that o'er it fall!
    God strikes a silence through you all,
    And "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, feeing 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.'"

    He giveth his beloved sleep.

    – Psalm 127:2
    The Bible, KJV

  14. At Nightfall

    by Albert Phelps

    Sunk is the sun behind the western trees;
    And the long shadows melt into the dusk;
    The garden-flowers look palely from hushed leaves,
    Scenting the breeze with heavy-laden sweets.
    Sleep.

    Now falls the night, down-sifting through the air
    Lulled waftures of soft-dripping silences;
    And slumber-breathing darkness shrouds thine eyes.
    Sleep.

    The idle hands lie folded in the lap,
    Forgetting the long travail of the day;
    The playthings we call work are all put by;
    And all the rankling of the bitter world,
    Like a dull snake, coils up itself to sleep;
    And peace falls, like a flutter of white doves.
    Sleep.

    For sin and pain and passion and all ills
    That tear the unshielded weakness of our souls;
    The power that bids us suffer gives us sleep;
    And he that says he has no faith lies down,
    And in all faith resigns his soul to sleep;
    Sure of the morning and the light again,
    Forth ebbs the soul upon the tide of dreams.
    Sleep.

    And all alike are folded in one love;
    And all alike are guided by one will;
    And on each heart fall the cool dews of rest.
    Sleep.

    Love, thou art weary, and thine eyes are wet.
    Sleep.

  15. I Met at Eve

    by Walter De la Mare

    I met at eve the Prince of Sleep,
    His was a still and lovely face,
    He wandered through a valley steep,
    Lovely in a lonely place.

    His garb was grey of lavender,
    About his brows a poppy-wreath
    Burned like dim coals, and everywhere
    The air was sweeter for his breath.

    His twilight feet no sandals wore,
    His eyes shone faint in their own flame,
    Fair moths that gloomed his steps before
    Seemed letters of his lovely name.

    His house is in the mountain ways,
    A phantom house of misty walls,
    Whose golden flocks at evening graze,
    And witch the moon with muffled calls.

    Upwelling from his shadowy springs
    Sweet waters shake a trembling sound,
    There flit the hoot-owl's silent wings,
    There hath his web the silkworm wound.

    Dark in his pools clear visions lurk,
    And rosy, as with morning buds,
    Along his dales of broom and birk
    Dreams haunt his solitary woods.

    I met at eve the Prince of Sleep,
    His was a still and lovely face,
    He wandered through a valley steep,
    Lovely in a lonely place.

  16. Now the Day is Over

    by Sabine Baring-Gould

    Now the day is over,
    Night is drawing nigh,
    Shadows of the evening
    Steal across the sky.

    Now the darkness gathers,
    Stars begin to peep;
    Birds, and beasts, and flowers
    Soon will be asleep.

    Jesus, give the weary
    Calm and sweet repose;
    With thy tenderest blessing
    May our eyelids close.

    Grant to little children,
    Visions bright of Thee;
    Guard the sailors, tossing
    On the deep blue sea.

    Comfort every suff’rer
    Watching late in pain.
    Those who plan some evil
    From their sin restrain.

    Through the long night-watches,
    May thine angels spread
    Their white wings above me,
    Watching round my bed.

    When the morning wakens,
    Then may I arise
    Pure, and fresh, and sinless
    In Thy holy eyes.

  17. Dream Land

    by Christina Rossetti

    Where sunless rivers weep
    Their waves into the deep,
    She sleeps a charmèd sleep:
    Awake her not.
    Led by a single star,
    She came from very far
    To seek where shadows are
    Her pleasant lot.

    She left the rosy morn,
    She left the fields of corn,
    For twilight cold and lorn
    And water springs.
    Through sleep, as through a veil,
    She sees the sky look pale,
    And hears the nightingale
    That sadly sings.

    Rest, rest, a perfect rest
    Shed over brow and breast;
    Her face is toward the west,
    The purple land.
    She cannot see the grain
    Ripening on hill and plain;
    She cannot feel the rain
    Upon her hand.

    Rest, rest, forevermore
    Upon a mossy shore;
    Rest, rest at the heart's core
    Till time shall cease:
    Sleep that no pain shall wake,
    Night that no morn shall break,
    Till joy shall overtake
    Her perfect peace.

  18. Bed in Summer

    by Robert Louis Stevenson

    In winter I get up at night
    And dress by yellow candle-light.
    In summer, quite the other way,
    I have to go to bed by day.

    I have to go to bed and see The birds still hopping on the tree,
    Or hear the grown-up people's feet
    Still going past me in the street.

    And does it not seem hard to you,
    When all the sky is clear and blue,
    And I should like so much to play,
    To have to go to bed by day?

  19. My Bed is a Boat

    by Robert Louis Stevenson

    My bed is like a little boat;
    Nurse helps me in when I embark;
    She girds me in my sailor's coat
    And starts me in the dark.

    At night, I go on board and say
    Good night to all my friends on shore;
    I shut my eyes and sail away
    And see and hear no more.

    And sometimes things to bed I take,
    As prudent sailors have to do;
    Perhaps a slice of wedding-cake,
    Perhaps a toy or two.

    All night across the dark we steer;
    But when the day returns at last,
    Safe in my room, beside the pier,
    I find my vessel fast.

  20. The Moon

    by Robert Louis Stevenson

    The moon has a face like the clock in the hall;
    She shines on thieves on the garden wall,
    On streets and field and harbour quays,
    And birdies asleep in the forks of the trees.

    The squalling cat and the squeaking mouse,
    The howling dog by the door of the house,
    The bat that lies in bed at noon,
    All love to be out by the light of the moon.

    But all of the things that belong to the day
    Cuddle to sleep to be out of her way;
    And flowers and children close their eyes
    Till up in the morning the sun shall arise.

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