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Henry Charles Beeching, ed. (1859–1919). Lyra Sacra: A Book of Religious Verse. 1903.

By Sir Thomas Browne (1605–1682)

An Evening Prayer

THOU 1 whose nature cannot sleep,
On my temples sentry keep;
Guard me ’gainst those watchful foes,
Whose eyes are open whilst mine close;
Let no dreams my head infest,        5
But such as Jacob’s temples blest.
While I do rest, my soul advance;
Make me to sleep a holy trance,
That I may, my rest being wrought,
Awake into some holy thought;        10
And with as active vigour run
My course, as doth the nimble sun.
Sleep is a death. Oh, make me try
By sleeping, what is it to die!
And as gently lay my head        15
On my grave, as now my bed.
Howe’er I rest, great God, let me
Awake again at last with Thee!
And thus assured, behold I lie
Securely, or to wake or die.        20
Note 1. From “Religio Medici” (ii. 117, ed. Pickering): “In fine, so like death [is sleep], I dare not trust it without my prayers, and an half adieu unto the world, and take my farewell in a colloquy with God. [Here follows the poem.] This is the dormitive I take to bed-ward; I need no other laudanum than this to make me sleep: after which I close mine eyes in security, content to take my leave of the sun, and sleep unto the resurrection.” [back]