Hoyt & Roberts, comps. Hoyt’s New Cyclopedia of Practical Quotations. 1922.


What means this heaviness that hangs upon me?
This lethargy that creeps through all my senses?
Nature, oppress’d and harrass’d out with care,
Sinks down to rest.
Addison—Cato. Act V. Sc. 1.

What probing deep
Has ever solved the mystery of sleep?
T. B. Aldrich—Human Ignorance.

But I, in the chilling twilight stand and wait
At the portcullis, at thy castle gate,
Longing to see the charmèd door of dreams
Turn on its noiseless hinges, delicate sleep!
T. B. Aldrich—Invocation to Sleep.

Come to me now! O, come! benignest sleep!
And fold me up, as evening doth a flower,
From my vain self, and vain things which have power
Upon my soul to make me smile or weep,
And when thou comest, oh, like Death be deep.
Patrick Proctor Alexander—Sleep. Appeared in the Spectator.

How happy he whose toil
Has o’er his languid pow’rless limbs diffus’d
A pleasing lassitude; he not in vain
Invokes the gentle Deity of dreams.
His pow’rs the most voluptuously dissolve
In soft repose; on him the balmy dews
Of Sleep with double nutriment descend.
Armstrong—The Art of Preserving Health. Bk. III. L. 385.

When the sheep are in the fauld, and a’ the kye at hame,
And all the weary world to sleep are gane.
Lady Ann Barnard—Auld Robin Gray.

Still believe that ever round you
Spirits float who watch and wait;
Nor forget the twain who found you
Sleeping nigh the Golden Gate.
Besant and Rice—Case of Mr. Lucraft and other Tales. P. 92. (Ed. 1877).

Since the Brother of Death daily haunts us with dying mementoes.
Sir Thomas Browne—Hydriotaphia. Same idea in Butler—Anatomy of Melancholy. P. 107. (Ed. 1849). Also in an old French poet Racan.

Sleep is a death, O make me try,
By sleeping, what it is to die:
And as gently lay my head
On my grave, as now my bed.
Sir Thomas Browne—Religo Medici. Pt. II. Sec. XII.

How he sleepeth! having drunken
Weary childhood’s mandragore,
From his pretty eyes have sunken
Pleasures to make room for more—
Sleeping near the withered nosegay which he pulled the day before.
E. B. Browning—A Child Asleep.

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.”
E. B. Browning—The Sleep.

Steep on, Baby, on the floor,
Tired of all the playing,
Sleep with smile the sweeter for
That you dropped away in!
On your curls’ full roundness stand
Golden lights serenely—
One cheek, pushed out by the hand,
Folds the dimple inly.
E. B. Browning—Sleeping and Watching.

Sleep hath its own world,
A boundary between the things misnamed
Death and existence: Sleep hath its own world,
And a wide realm of wild reality,
And dreams in their development have breath,
And tears, and tortures, and the touch of joy.
Byron—The Dream. St. 1.

Now, blessings light on him that first invented this same sleep! it covers a man all over, thoughts and all, like a cloak; it is meat for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, heat for the cold, and cold for the hot. It is the current coin that purchases all the pleasures of the world cheap; and the balance that sets the king and the shepherd, the fool and the wise man, even. There is only one thing, which somebody once put into my head, that I dislike in sleep; it is, that it resembles death; there is very little difference between a man in his first sleep, and a man in his last sleep.
Cervantes—Don Quixote. Pt. II. Ch. LXVIII.

It is not good a sleping hound to wake.
Chaucer—Troilus. I. 640. Wake not a sleeping lion. The Countryman’s New Commonwealth. (1647). Esveiller le chat qui dort. Rabelais—Pantagruel. Wake not a sleeping wolf. Henry IV. Pt. II.

O sleep! it is a gentle thing,
Beloved from pole to pole!
To Mary Queen the praise be given!
She sent the gentle sleep from Heaven
That slid into my soul.
Coleridge—Ancient Mariner. Pt. V. St. 1.

Visit her, gentle Sleep! with wings of healing,
And may this storm be but a mountain-birth,
May all the stars hang bright above her dwelling,
Silent as though they watched the sleeping Earth!
Coleridge—Dejection. An Ode. St. 8.

Care-charmer Sleep, son of the sable Night,
Brother to Death, in silent darkness born;
Relieve my languish, and restore the light.
Samuel Daniel—Sonnet. 46. To Delia.

Awake thee, my Lady-Love!
Wake thee, and rise!
The sun through the bower peeps
Into thine eyes.
George Darley—Waking Song.

Golden slumbers kiss your eyes,
Smiles awake you when you rise.
Thos. Dekker—The Comedy of Patient Grissil. (Play written by Dekker, Henry Chettle, Wm. Houghton.)

Sister Simplicitie!
Sing, sing a song to me,—
Sing me to sleep!
Some legend low and long,
Slow as the summer song
Of the dull Deep.
Sidney Dobell—A Sleep Song.

Two gates the silent house of Sleep adorn:
Of polished ivory this, that of transparent horn:
True visions through transparent horn arise;
Through polished ivory pass deluding lies.
Dryden—Æneid. Bk. VI. 894. Same in Pope’s trans. of Odyssey. Bk. XIX. 562.

The sleep of a labouring man is sweet.
Ecclesiastes. V. 12.

She took the cup of life to sip,
Too bitter ’twas to drain;
She meekly put it from her lip,
And went to sleep again.
Epitaph in Meole Churchyard. Found in Sabrinæ Corolla. P. 246 of third ed.

If thou wilt close thy drowsy eyes,
My mulberry one, my golden son,
The rose shall sing thee lullabies,
My pretty cosset lambkin!
Eugene Field—Armenian Lullaby.

The mill goes toiling slowly round
With steady and solemn creak,
And my little one hears in the kindly sound
The voice of the old mill speak;
While round and round those big white wings
Grimly and ghostlike creep,
My little one hears that the old mill sings,
Sleep, little tulip, sleep.
Eugene Field—Nightfall in Dordrecht.

Care-charming Sleep, thou easer of all woes,
Brother to Death … thou son of Night.
John Fletcher—The Tragedy of Valentinian. Act V. 2.

O sleep! in pity thou art made
A double boon to such as we;
Beneath closed lids and folds of deepest shade
We think we see.
Frothingham—The Sight of the Blind.

Sleep sweet within this quiet room,
O thou! whoe’er thou art;
And let no mournful Yesterday,
Disturb thy peaceful heart.
Ellen M. H. Gates—Sleep Sweet.

Oh! lightly, lightly tread!
A holy thing is sleep,
On the worn spirit shed,
And eyes that wake to weep.
Felicia D. Hemans—The Sleeper.

One hour’s sleep before midnight is worth three after.
Herbert—Jacula Prudentum.

Then Sleep and Death, two twins of winged race,
Of matchless swiftness, but of silent pace.
Homer—Iliad. Bk. XVI. L. 831. Pope’s trans.

Et idem
Indignor quandoque bonus dormitat Homerus;
Verum opere longo fas est obrepere somnum.
I, too, am indignant when the worthy Homer nods; yet in a long work it is allowable for sleep to creep over the writer.
Horace—Ars Poetica. 358.

I lay me down to sleep,
With little thought or care
Whether my waking find
Me here, or there.
Mrs. R. S. Howland (Miss Woolsey)—Rest. Found under the pillow of a soldier who, in the War of the Rebellion, died in the hospital at Port Royal. For a time attributed to this unknown soldier.

O sleep, we are beholden to thee, sleep;
Thou bearest angels to us in the night,
Saints out of heaven with palms.
Seen by thy light
Sorrow is some old tale that goeth not deep;
Love is a pouting child.
Jean Ingelow—Sleep.

I never take a nap after dinner but when I have had a bad night, and then the nap takes me.
Samuel Johnson—Boswell’s Life of Johnson. (1775).

O magic sleep! O comfortable bird,
That broodest o’er the troubled sea of the mind
Till it is hush’d and smooth! O unconfined
Restraint! imprisoned liberty! great key
To golden palaces.
Keats—Endymion. Bk. I. L. 452.

Over the edge of the purple down,
Where the single lamplight gleams,
Know ye the road to the Merciful Town
That is hard by the Sea of Dreams—
Where the poor may lay their wrongs away,
And the sick may forget to weep?
But we—pity us! Oh pity us!
We wakeful; Ah, pity us!—
Kipling—City of Sleep.

But who will reveal to our waiting ken
The forms that swim and the shapes that creep under the waters of sleep?
And I would I could know what swimmeth below when the tide comes in
On the length and the breadth of the marvelous Marches of Glynn.
Sidney Lanier—Marches of Glynn. Last lines.

Breathe thy balm upon the lonely,
Gentle Sleep!
As the twilight breezes bless
With sweet scents the wilderness,
Ah, let warm white dove-wings only
Round them sweep!
Lucy Larcom—Sleep Song.

For I am weary, and am overwrought
With too much toil, with too much care distraught,
And with the iron crown of anguish crowned.
Lay thy soft hand upon my brow and cheek,
O peaceful Sleep!

Dreams of the summer night!
Tell her, her lover keeps
Watch! while in slumbers light
She sleeps!
My lady sleeps!
Longfellow—Spanish Student. Act I. Sc. 3. Serenade. St. 4.

Thou driftest gently down the tides of sleep.
Longfellow—To a Child. L. 115.

While the bee with honied thigh,
That at her flowery work doth sing,
And the waters murmuring
With such a consort as they keep,
Entice the dewy-feather’d sleep.
Milton—Il Penseroso. L. 142.

The timely dew of sleep
Now falling with soft slumb’rous weight inclines
Our eyelids.
Milton—Paradise Lost. Bk. IV. L. 615.

For his sleep
Was aery light, from pure digestion bred.
Milton—Paradise Lost. Bk. V. L. 3.

Dreamer of dreams, born out of my due time,
Why should I strive to set the crooked straight?
Let it suffice me that my murmuring rhyme
Beat with light wing against the ivory gate,
Telling a tale not too importunate
To those who in the sleepy region stay,
Lulled by the singer of an empty day.
William Morris—Apology to The Earthly Paradise.

O, we’re a’ noddin’, nid, nid, noddin’;
O we’re a’ noddin’ at our house at hame.
Lady Nairne—We’re a’ Noddin’.

Stulte, quid est somnus, gelidæ nisi mortis imago?
Longa quiescendi tempora fata dabunt.
Fool, what is sleep but the likeness of icy death? The fates shall give us a long period of rest.
Ovid—Amorum. Bk. II. 10. 40.

Alliciunt somnos tempus motusque merumque.
Time, motion and wine cause sleep.
Ovid—Fasti. VI. 681.

Somne, quies rerum, placidissime, somne, Deorum,
Pax animi, quem cura fugit, qui corda diurnis
Fessa ministeriis mulces, reparasque labori!
Sleep, rest of nature, O sleep, most gentle of the divinities, peace of the soul, thou at whose presence care disappears, who soothest hearts wearied with daily employments, and makest them strong again for labour!
Ovid—Metamorphoses. XI. 624.

Balow, my babe, lye still and sleipe,
It grieves me sair to see thee weipe.
Percy—Reliques. Lady Anne Bothwell’s Lament.

Sleep, baby, sleep
Thy father’s watching the sheep,
Thy mother’s shaking the dreamland tree,
And down drops a little dream for thee.
Elizabeth Prentiss—Sleep, Baby, Sleep.

Drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.
Proverbs. XXIII. 21.

I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.
Psalms. IV. 8.

He giveth his beloved sleep.
Psalms. CXXVII. 2.

I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids.
Psalms. CXXXII. 4; Proverbs. VI. 4.

Je ne dors jamais bien à mon aise sinon quand je suis au sermon, ou quand je prie Dieu.
I never sleep comfortably except when I am at sermon or when I pray to God.
Rabelais—Gargantua. Bk. I. Ch. XLI.

Elle s’endormit du sommeil des justes.
She slept the sleep of the just.
Racine—Abrégé de l’histoire de Port Royal. Vol. IV. 517. Mesnard’s ed.

When the Sleepy Man comes with the dust on his eyes
(Oh, weary, my Dearie, so weary!)
He shuts up the earth, and he opens the skies.
(So hush-a-by, weary my Dearie!)
C. G. D. Roberts—Sleepy Man.

Heavy Sleep, the Cousin of Death.

Yes; bless the man who first invented sleep
(I really can’t avoid the iteration):
But blast the man with curses loud and deep,
Whate’er the rascal’s name or age or station,
Who first invented, and went round advertising,
That artificial cut-off—Early Rising.
J. G. Saxe—Early Rising.

“God bless the man who first invented sleep!”
So Sancho Panza said and so say I;
And bless him, also, that he didn’t keep
His great discovery to himself, nor try
To make it,—as the lucky fellow might—
A close monopoly by patent-right.
J. G. Saxe—Early Rising.

Sleep the sleep that knows not breaking,
Morn of toil, nor night of waking.
Scott—Lady of the Lake. Canto I. St. 31.

To all, to each, a fair good-night,
And pleasing dreams, and slumbers light.
Scott—Marmion. L’Envoy. To the Reader.

O sleep, thou ape of death, lie dull upon her
And be her sense but as a monument.
Cymbeline. Act II. Sc. 2. L. 31.

He that sleeps feels not the tooth-ache.
Cymbeline. Act V. Sc. 4. L. 177.

To sleep! perchance to dream; ay, there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause.
Hamlet. Act III. Sc. 1. L. 65.

On your eyelids crown the god of sleep,
Charming your blood with pleasing heaviness:
Making such difference ’twixt wake and sleep,
As is the difference betwixt day and night,
The hour before the heavenly-harness’d team
Begins his golden progress in the east.
Henry IV. Pt. I. Act III. Sc. 1. L. 217.

O sleep, O gentle sleep,
Nature’s soft nurse, how have I frighted thee,
That thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down
And steep my senses in forgetfulness?
Henry IV. Pt. II. Act III. Sc. 1. L. 4.

Why rather, sleep, liest thou in smoky cribs,
Upon uneasy pallets stretching thee
And hushed with buzzing night-flies to thy slumber,
Than in the perfum’d chambers of the great,
Under the canopies of costly state,
And lull’d with sound of sweetest melody?
Henry IV. Pt. II. Act III. Sc. 1. L. 9.

O polish’d perturbation! golden care!
That keep’st the ports of slumber open wide
To many a watchful night! sleep with it now!
Yet not so sound and half so deeply sweet
As he whose brow with homely biggen bound
Snores out the watch of night.
Henry IV. Pt. II. Act IV. Sc. 5. L. 23.

This sleep is sound indeed, this is a sleep
That from this golden rigol hath divorc’d
So many English kings.
Henry IV. Pt. II. Act IV. Sc. 5. L. 35.

Winding up days with toil and nights with sleep.
Henry V. Act IV. Sc. 1. L. 296.

Fast asleep? It is no matter;
Enjoy the honey-heavy dew of slumber;
Thou hast no figures nor no fantasies,
Which busy care draws in the brains of men;
Therefore thou sleep’st so sound.
Julius Cæsar. Act II. Sc. 1. L. 229.

Bid them come forth and hear me,
Or at their chamber-door I’ll beat the drum
Till it cry sleep to death.
King Lear. Act II. Sc. 4. L. 118.

Sleep shall neither night nor day
Hang upon his pent-house lid.
Macbeth. Act I. Sc. 3. L. 19.

Methought I heard a voice cry, “Sleep no more!
Macbeth does murder sleep,” the innocent sleep.
Macbeth. Act II. Sc. 2. L. 35.

Sleep that knits up the ravell’d sleave of care,
The death of each day’s life, sore labour’s bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course,
Chief nourisher in life’s feast.
Macbeth. Act II. Sc. 2. L. 36.

Shake off this downy sleep, death’s counterfeit,
And look on death itself!
Macbeth. Act II. Sc. 3. L. 81.

He sleeps by day
More than the wild-cat.
Merchant of Venice. Act II. Sc. 5. L. 47.

Thou lead them thus,
Till o’er their brows death-counterfeiting sleep
With leaden legs and batty wings doth creep.
Midsummer Night’s Dream. Act III. Sc. 2. L. 363.

Sleep, that sometimes shuts up sorrow’s eye,
Steal me awhile from mine own company.
Midsummer Night’s Dream. Act III. Sc. 2. L. 435.

But I pray you, let none of your people stir me: I have an exposition of sleep come upon me.
Midsummer Night’s Dream. Act IV. Sc. 1. L. 42.

Not poppy, nor mandragora,
Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world
Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep
Which thou ow’dst yesterday.
Othello. Act III. Sc. 3. L. 330.

I let fall the windows of mine eyes.
Richard III. Act V. Sc. 3. L. 116.

Thy eyes’ windows fall,
Like death, when he shuts up the day of life;
Each part, depriv’d of supple government,
Shall, stiff and stark and cold, appear like death.
Romeo and Juliet. Act IV. Sc. 1. L. 100.

Sleep, the fresh dew of languid love, the rain
Whose drops quench kisses till they burn again.
Shelley—Epipsychidion. L. 571.

How wonderful is Death, Death and his brother Sleep!
Shelley—Queen Mab. L. 1.

And on their lids***
The baby Sleep is pillowed.
Shelley—Queen Mab. Pt. I.

Come, Sleep: O Sleep! the certain knot of peace,
The baiting place of wit, the balm of woe,
The poor man’s wealth, the prisoner’s release,
Th’ indifferent judge between the high and low.
Sir Philip Sidney—Astrophel and Stella. St. 39.

Take thou of me, sweet pillowes, sweetest bed;
A chamber deafe of noise, and blind of light,
A rosie garland and a weary hed.
Sir Philip Sidney—Astrophel and Stella. St. 39.

Thou hast been called, O Sleep, the friend of Woe,
But ’tis the happy who have called thee so.
Southey—The Curse of Kehama. Canto XV. St. 12.

For next to Death is Sleepe to be compared;
Therefore his house is unto his annext:
Here Sleepe, ther Richesse, and hel-gate them both betwext.
Spenser—Faerie Queene. Bk. II. Canto VII. St. 25.

All gifts but one the jealous God may keep
From our soul’s longing, one he cannot—sleep.
This, though he grudge all other grace to prayer,
This grace his closed hand cannot choose but spare.
Swinburne—Tristram of Lyonesse. Prelude to Tristram and Iseult. L. 205.

She sleeps: her breathings are not heard
In palace chambers far apart,
The fragrant tresses are not stirr’d
That lie upon her charmed heart.
She sleeps: on either hand upswells
The gold fringed pillow lightly prest:
She sleeps, nor dreams, but ever dwells
A perfect form in perfect rest.
Tennyson—Day Dream. The Sleeping Beauty. St. 3.

The mystery
Of folded sleep.
Tennyson—Dream of Fair Women. St. 66.

When in the down I sink my head,
Sleep, Death’s twin-brother, times my breath.
Tennyson—In Memoriam. Pt. LXVIII.

For is there aught in Sleep can charm the wise?
To lie in dead oblivion, loosing half
The fleeting moments of too short a life—
Who would in such a gloomy state remain
Longer than Nature craves?
Thomson—Seasons. Summer. L. 71.

Who can wrestle against Sleep?—Yet is that giant very gentleness.
Martin Tupper—Of Beauty.

Yet never sleep the sun up. Prayer shou’d
Dawn with the day. There are set, awful hours
’Twixt heaven and us. The manna was not good
After sun-rising; far day sullies flowres.
Rise to prevent the sun; sleep doth sin glut,
And heaven’s gate opens when the world’s is shut.
Henry Vaughan—Rules and Lessons. St. 2.

Softly, O midnight hours!
Move softly o’er the bowers
Where lies in happy sleep a girl so fair:
For ye have power, men say,
Our hearts in sleep to sway
And cage cold fancies in a moonlight snare.
Aubrey Thos. De Vere—Song. Softly, O Midnight Hours.

Deep rest and sweet, most like indeed to death’s own quietness.
Vergil—Æneid. Bk. VI. L. 522. Wm. Morris’ trans.

Tu dors, Brutus, et Rome est dans les fers.
Thou sleepest, Brutus, and yet Rome is in chains.
Voltaire—La Mort de César. II. 2.

Hush, my dear, lie still and slumber!
Holy angels guard thy bed!
Heavenly blessings without number
Gently falling on thy head.
Watts—Cradle Hymn.

’Tis the voice of the sluggard I hear him complain;
“You’ve waked me too soon, I must slumber again.
A little more sleep and a little more slumber.”
Watts—Moral Songs. The Sluggard.

Come, gentle sleep! attend thy votary’s prayer,
And, though death’s image, to my couch repair;
How sweet, though lifeless, yet with life to lie,
And, without dying, O how sweet to die!
John Wolcot (Peter Pindar). Trans. of Thos. Warton’s Latin Epigram on Sleep for a statue of Somnus in the garden of Mr. Harris.

And to tired limbs and over-busy thoughts,
Inviting sleep and soft forgetfulness.
Wordsworth—The Excursion. Bk. IV.

Tired Nature’s sweet restorer, balmy sleep!
He, like the world, his ready visit pays
Where fortune smiles; the wretched he forsakes.
Young—Night Thoughts. Night I. L. 1.

Creation sleeps. ’Tis as the general pulse
Of life stood still, and nature made a pause.
Young—Night Thoughts. Night I. L. 23.