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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Sydney Dobell 1824–74

Fragment of a Sleep-Song


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.

Some legend long and low,

Whose equal ebb and flow

To and fro creep

On the dim marge of gray

’Tween the soul’s night and day,

Washing “awake” away

Into “asleep.”

Some legend low and long,

Never so weak or strong

As to let go

While it can hold this heart

Withouten sigh or smart,

Or as to hold this heart

When it sighs “No.”

Some long low swaying song,

As the sway’d shadow long

Sways to and fro

Where, thro’ the crowing cocks,

And by the swinging clocks,

Some weary mother rocks

Some weary woe.

Sing up and down to me

Like a dream-boat at sea,

So, and still so,

Float through the “then” and “when,”

Rising from when to then,

Sinking from then to when

While the waves go.

Low and high, high and low,

Now and then, then and now,

Mow, now;

And when the now is then, and when the then is now,

And when the low is high, and when the high is low,

Low, low;

Let me float, let the boat

Go, go;

Let me glide, let me slide

Slow, slow;

Gliding boat, sliding boat,

Slow, slow;

Glide away, slide away

So, so.