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SLEEP, Silence' child, sweet father of soft rest,
Prince, whose approach peace to all mortals brings,
Indifferent host to shepherds and to kings,
Sole comforter of minds with grief opprest;
Lo, by thy charming rod all breathing things
Lie slumbering, with forgetfulness possesst!
And yet o’er me to spread thy drowsy wings
Thou spares, alas, who cannot be thy guest!
Since I am thine, O come,
but with that face
To inward light, which thou art wont to show,
With feigned solace ease a true-felt woe!
Or if, deaf god, thou do deny that grace,
Come as thou wilt, and what thou wilt bequeath!
I long to kiss the image of my death,
Trust not, sweet soul, those curled waves of gold
With gentle tides which on your temples flow;
Nor temples spread with flakes of virgin snow,
Nor snow of cheeks with Tyrian grain enrolld.
Trust not those shining lights, which wrought my woe,
When first I did their burning rays behold ;
Nor voice whose sounds more strange effects do shew
Than of the Thracian harper have been told.
Look to this dying lily, fading rose,
Dark hyacinth, of late whose blushing beams
Made all the neighbouring herbs and grass rejoice,
And think how little is 'twixt life's extremes:
The cruel tyrant that did kill those flowers,
Shall once, aye me! not spare that spring of yours.
If crost with all mishaps be my poor life,
If one short day I never spent in mirth,
If my spirit with itself holds lasting strife,
If sorrow's death is but new sorrow's birth;
If this vain world be but a sable stage,
Where slave-born man plays to the scoffing stars,
If youth be toss'd with love, with weakness age,
If knowledge serve to hold our thoughts in wars;
If time can close the hundred mouths of Fame,
And make what long since past like that to be,
If virtue only be an idle name,
If I, when I was born, was born to die ;
Why seek I to prolong these loathsome days?
The fairest rose in shortest time decays.
Dear quirister, who from those shadows sends,
Ere that the blushing dawn dare shew her light,
Such sad lamenting strains, that night attends,
(Become all ear), stars stay to hear thy plight;
whose grief even reach of thought transcends,
Who ne'er (not in a dream) did taste delight,
May thee importune, who like case pretends,
And seems to joy in woe, in woe's despite ;
Tell me, (so may thou fortune milder try,
And long, long sing !) for what thou thus complains,
Sith, winter gone, the sun in dappled sky
Enamour'd smiles on woods and flowery plains ?
The bird, as if my questions did her move,
With trembling wings, sobb’d forth, I love, I love.
Dear wood, and you, sweet solitary place,
Where from the vulgar I estranged live,
Contented more with what your shades me give
Than if I had what Thetis doth embrace ;
What snaky eye, grown jealous of my peace,
Now from your silent horrors would me drive,
When Sun, progressing in his glorious race
Beyond the Twins, doth near our pole arrive?
What sweet delight a quiet life affords,
And what it is to be of bondage free,
Far from the madding worldling's hoarse discords,
Sweet flowery place, I first did learn of thee!
Ah! if I were mine own, your dear resorts
I would not change with princes' stately courts.