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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882). Complete Poetical Works. 1893.


From the French. The Child Asleep

  • (Verslets à mon premier né)
    By Clotilde de Surville

  • SWEET babe! true portrait of thy father’s face,

    Sleep on the bosom that thy lips have pressed!

    Sleep, little one; and closely, gently place

    Thy drowsy eyelid on thy mother’s breast.

    Upon that tender eye, my little friend,

    Soft sleep shall come, that cometh not to me!

    I watch to see thee, nourish thee, defend;

    ’T is sweet to watch for thee, alone for thee!

    His arms fall down; sleep sits upon his brow;

    His eye is closed; he sleeps, nor dreams of harm.

    Wore not his cheek the apple’s ruddy glow,

    Would you not say he slept on Death’s cold arm?

    Awake, my boy! I tremble with affright!

    Awake, and chase this fatal thought! Unclose

    Thine eye but for one moment on the light!

    Even at the price of thine, give me repose!

    Sweet error! he but slept, I breathe again;

    Come, gentle dreams, the hour of sleep beguile!

    Oh, when shall he, for whom I sigh in vain,

    Beside me watch to see thy waking smile?