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English Poetry II: From Collins to Fitzgerald.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

622. The Sleep

He giveth his beloved sleep—Ps. cxxvii. 2.

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 belovèd 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 belovèd, 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 belovèd, sleep.

‘Sleep soft, beloved!’ we sometimes say,

But have no tune to charm away

Sad dreams that through the eye-lids creep.

But never doleful dream again

Shall break the happy slumber when

He giveth His belovèd, sleep.

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,

He giveth His belovèd, 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 belovèd, sleep.

Aye, 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.’

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 child-like on His love repose,

Who giveth His belovèd, 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 belovèd, sleep.’