THE SLEEP

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THE SLEEP – 28 September 2007

In an old (1856) book of poems by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, I found The Sleep. This quotation from the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) appears below the title of the poem: “He giveth His belovèd sleep.” – Ps. cxxvii

Born 6 March 1806 in Durham, England, Elizabeth Barrett Browning was one of the most respected poets of the Victorian era. She influenced many writers including Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allan Poe, Dante Rossetti, and Christina Rossetti. She died 29 June 1861 in Florence, Italy.

THE SLEEP
By Elizabeth Barrett Browning
6 March 1806 - 29 June 1861

“He giveth His belovèd sleep.” – Ps. cxxvii

I.
Of all the thoughts of God that are
Borne inward into souls afar
Along the Psalmist’s music deep,
Now tell me if that any is,
For gift or grace, surpassing this, –
“He giveth His belovèd sleep.”

II.
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 belovèd sleep.

III.
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 belovèd sleep.

IV.
“Sleep soft, beloved!” we sometimes say,
Who 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 belovèd sleep.

V.
O earth, so full of dreary noises!
O men with wailing in your voices!
O delvèd gold the wailers heap!
O strife, O curse, that o’er it fall!
God strikes a silence through you all,
And giveth His belovèd sleep.

VI.
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 belovèd sleep.

VII.
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 belovèd sleep.”

VIII.
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 belovèd sleep.

IX.
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 belovèd sleep.” 
 


"Joyful Curmudgeon"
An oxymoron?
No! I see all the beauty of God's creation and I'm joyful.  At the same time, I see all the suffering and corruption going on in the world, and feel called to help expose and end it so that we may have true peace and compassion.

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