C.N. Douglas, comp. Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical. 1917.


How sweet, though lifeless, yet with life to lie; and without dying, oh, how sweet to die!

John Wolcott.

He giveth His beloved sleep.


Night’s sepulchre.


Heaven trims our lamps while we sleep.


Tired nature’s sweet restorer, balmy sleep!


Sleep and Death are brothers.


Sleep in peace, and wake in joy.


Downy sleep, death’s counterfeit.


Sleep, the antechamber of the grave.


Our foster-nurse of nature is repose.


Sleep, that sometimes shuts up sorrow’s eye.


Sweet nurse of nature, over the senses creep.


Voluptuous as the first approach of sleep.


Sleep, thou most gentle of the deities.


Inviting sleep and soft forgetfulness.


I let fall the windows of mine eyes.


Thou driftest gently down the tides of sleep.


After life’s fitful fever he sleeps well.


At my feet the city slumbered.


The mystery of folded sleep.


He sleeps well who is not conscious that he sleeps ill.


The soul shares not the body’s rest.


Enjoy the honey-heavy dew of slumber.


Fatigue is the best pillow.


Be sure they sleep not whom God needs.

Robert Browning.

No; death is not an eternal sleep.


How many sleep who keep the world awake!


Sleep is the best cure for waking troubles.


The world of sleep has an existence of its own.

Victor Hugo.

Sleepless themselves to give their readers sleep.


  • I pray you, let none of your people stir me;
  • I have an exposition of sleep come upon me.
  • Shakespeare.

    The timely dew of sleep, now falling with soft slumbrous weight, inclines our eyelids.


    The drowsy frightened steeds that draw the litter of close-curtained sleep.


    Sleep, riches, and health are only truly enjoyed after they have been interrupted.


    Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep.


    O sleep, why dost thou leave me? why thy visionary joy remove?


    Weariness can snore upon the flint, when restive sloth finds the down pillow hard.


    Sleep is a generous thief; he gives to vigor what he takes from time.

    Elizabeth, Queen of Roumania.

    God gives sleep to the bad, in order that the good may be undisturbed.


    One hour’s sleep before midnight is worth two after.


  • As fast lock’d up in sleep, as guiltless labor,
  • When it lies starkly in the traveller’s bones.
  • Shakespeare.

    Sweet sleep fell upon his eyelids, unwakeful, most pleasant, the nearest like death.


    Deep rest, and sweet, most like indeed to death’s own quietness.


    A holy thing is sleep, on the worn spirit shed, and eyes that wake to weep.

    Mrs. Hemans.

    Sleep, to the homeless thou art home; the friendless find in thee a friend.

    Ebenezer Elliott.

    Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course, chief nourisher in life’s feast.


    Great eaters and great sleepers are incapable of anything else that is great.

    Henry IV. of France.

  • Sleep the sleep that knows not breaking,
  • Morn of toil, nor night of waking.
  • Scott.

  • O sleep, thou ape of death, lie dull upon her;
  • And be her sense but as a monument.
  • Shakespeare.

  • Sleep shall neither night nor day
  • Hang upon his pent-house lid.
  • Shakespeare.

  • Creation sleeps, ’Tis as the general pulse
  • Of life stood still, and nature made a pause.
  • Young.

  • It seldom visits sorrow; when it doth,
  • It is a comforter.
  • Shakespeare.

  • And to tired limbs and over-busy thoughts
  • Inviting sleep and soft forgetfulness.
  • Wordsworth.

  • Be thy sleep
  • Silent as night is, and as deep.
  • Longfellow.

    Macbeth does murder sleep, the innocent sleep.


    No one but an adventurous traveler can know the luxury of sleep.

    Earl of Beaconsfield.

  • Sleep and death, two twins of winged race,
  • Of matchless swiftness, but of silent pace.
  • Pope.

  • What probing deep
  • Has ever solved the mystery of sleep?
  • T. B. Aldrich.

  • And on their lids***
  • The baby Sleep is pillowed.
  • Shelley.

  • Balow, my babe, lye still and sleipe,
  • It grieves me sair to see thee weipe.
  • Percy.

  • O sleep! it is a gentle thing,
  • Beloved from pole to pole.
  • Coleridge.

  • Strange state of being! (for ’tis still to be)
  • Senseless to feel, and with seal’d eyes to see.
  • Byron.

  • What all so soon asleep; I wish mine eyes
  • Would with themselves shut up my thoughts.
  • Shakespeare.

  • There are a kind of men so loose of soul,
  • That in their sleeps will mutter their affairs.
  • Shakespeare.

  • Thou hast been called, O sleep! the friend of woe;
  • But ’tis the happy who have called thee so.
  • Southey.

  • Care keeps his watch in every old man’s eye,
  • And where care lodges, sleep will never lie.
  • Shakespeare.

  • Sleep dwell upon thine eyes, peace in thy breast!
  • Would I were sleep and peace, so sweet to rest.
  • Shakespeare.

  • Sleep will bring thee dreams in starry number—
  • Let him come to thee and be thy guest.
  • Aytoun.

    Near the Cimmerians, in his dark abode, deep in a cavern dwells the drowsy god.


    Sleep is pain’s easiest salve, and doth fulfill all offices of death, except to kill.


    The baiting-place of wit, the balm of woe, the poor man’s wealth, the prisoner’s release.

    Sir P. Sidney.

    All sense of hearing and of sight enfold in the serene delight and quietude of sleep.


  • The deep of night is crept upon our talk,
  • And Nature must obey necessity.
  • Shakespeare.

    Life’s nurse, sent from heaven to create us anew day by day.


  • When in the down I sink my head,
  • Sleep, Death’s twin-brother, times my breath.
  • Tennyson.

    Winding up days with toil and nights with sleep.


    Sleep is death’s younger brother, and so like him, that I never dare trust him without my prayers.

    Sir Thomas Browne.

  • Shake off this downy sleep, death’s counterfeit,
  • And look on death itself!
  • Shakespeare.

  • Sleep, the fresh dew of languid love, the rain
  • Whose drops quench kisses till they burn again.
  • Shelley.

  • 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.

  • Kind sleep affords
  • The only boon the wretched mind can feel;
  • A momentary respite from despair.
  • Murphy.

  • Bid them come forth and hear me,
  • Or at their chamber-door I’ll beat the drum
  • Till it cry sleep to death.
  • Shakespeare.

    There is one sweet lenitive at least for evils, which nature holds out; so I took it kindly at her hands, and fell asleep.


    O gentle sleep! my welcome breath shall hail thee midst our mortal strife, who art the very thief of life, the very portraiture of death.

    Alonzo de Ledesma.

    Sleep is no servant of the will; it has caprices of its own; when courted most, it lingers still; when most pursued, ’tis swiftly gone.


    Sleep hath its own world, a boundary between the things misnamed death and existence.


    Well the art thou knowest in soft forgetfulness to steep the eyes which sorrow taught to watch and weep.

    Mrs. Tighe.

    Balm that tames all anguish, saint that evil thoughts and aims takest away, and into souls dost creep, like to a breeze from heaven.


    In a sound sleep the soul goes home to recruit her strength, which could not else endure the wear and tear of life.


    Sleep is a god too proud to wait in palaces, and yet so humble too as not to scorn the meanest country cottages.


    The long sleep of death closes our scars, and the short sleep of life our wounds. Sleep is the half of time which heals us.


  • O magic sleep! O comfortable bird
  • That broodest o’er the troubled sea of the mind
  • Till it is hush’d and smooth!
  • Keats.

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

  • To bed, to bed; sleep kill those pretty eyes,
  • And give as soft attachment to thy senses,
  • As infants empty of all thought.
  • Shakespeare.

  • 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.

    Even sleep is characteristic. How beautiful are children in their lovely innocence! how angel-like their blooming features! and how painful and anxious is the sleep of the guilty!

    Wilhelm von Humboldt.

    Sleep, the type of death, is also, like that which it typifies, restricted to the earth. It flies from hell, and is excluded from heaven.


    Put off thy cares with thy clothes; so shall thy rest strengthen thy labor; and so shall thy labor sweeten thy rest.


    Sleep lingers all our lifetime about our eyes, as night hovers all day in the boughs of the fir-tree.


    We sleep, but the loom of life never stops; and the pattern which was weaving when the sun went down is weaving when it comes up to-morrow.


    I never take a nap after dinner but when I have had a bad night, and then the nap takes me.

    Samuel Johnson.

    Sleep, that knits up the raveled sleave of care, the death of each day’s life, sore labor’s bath, balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course, chief nourisher in life’s feast.


    Alike to the slave and his oppressor cometh night with sweet refreshment, and half of the life of the most wretched is gladdened by the soothings of sleep.


    Sleep, 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?


    Canst thou, O partial sleep, give thy repose to the wet sea-boy in an hour so rude, and in the calmest and most stillest night, with all appliances and means to boot, deny it to a king?


  • Sleep! to the homeless, thou art home
  • The friendless find in thee a friend;
  • And well is, wheresoe’er he roams,
  • Who meets thee at his journey’s end.
  • Ebenezer Elliott.

  • Oh, sleep! sweet sleep!
  • Whatever form thou takest, thou art fair,
  • Holding unto our lips thy goblet filled
  • Out of Oblivion’s well, a healing draught!
  • Longfellow.

    We wake sleeping, and sleep waking. I do not see so clearly in my sleep; but as to my being awake, I never found it clear enough and free from clouds.


  • 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.

  • Thou lead them thus,
  • Till o’er their brows death-counterfeiting sleep
  • With leaden legs and batty wings doth creep.
  • Shakespeare.

  • 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.
  • Shakespeare.

  • Oh! lightly, lightly tread!
  • A holy thing is sleep,
  • On the worn spirit shed,
  • And eyes that wake to weep.
  • Mrs. Hemans.

  • 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.

  • 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.

    These should be hours for necessities, not for delights; times to repair our nature with comforting repose, and not for us to waste these times.


  • O soft embalmer of the still midnight!
  • Shutting, with careful fingers and benign,
  • Our gloom-pleased eyes, embower’d from the light,
  • Enshaded in forgetfulness divine.
  • Keats.

  • O peaceful Sleep! until from pain released
  • I breathe again uninterrupted breath!
  • Ah, with what subtile meaning did the Greek
  • Call thee the lesser mystery, at the feast
  • Whereof the greater mystery is death.
  • Longfellow.

    Leave your bed upon the first desertion of sleep; it being ill for the eyes to read lying, and worse for the mind to be idle; since the head during that laziness is commonly a cage for unclean thoughts.

    F. Osborn.

    In due season he betakes himself to his rest; he (the Christian) presumes not to alter the ordinance of day and night, nor dare confound, where distinctions are made by his Maker.

    Bishop Hall.

  • 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.

    Let youth cherish sleep, the happiest of earthly boons, while yet it is at its command; for there cometh the day to all when “neither the voice of the lute nor the birds” shall bring back the sweet slumbers that fell on their young eyes as unbidden as the dews.


    There are many ways of inducing sleep—the thinking of purling rills, or waving woods; reckoning of numbers; droppings from a wet sponge fixed over a brass pan, etc. But temperance and exercise answer much better than any of these succedaneums.


  • Of all the thoughts of God that are
  • Borne inward into 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?”
  • 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 beloved sleep.”
  • Mrs. Browning.

  • Is there aught in sleep can charm the wise?
  • To lie in dead oblivion, losing half
  • The fleeting moments of too short a life;
  • Total extinction of th’ enlighten’d soul,
  • *****
  • Who would in such a gloomy state remain
  • Longer than nature craves?
  • Thomson.

    We are somewhat more than ourselves in our sleep; and the slumber of the body seems to be but the waking of the soul. It is the ligation of sense, but the liberty of reason; and our waking conceptions do not match the fancies of our sleep.

    Sir T. Browne.

    Sleep, thou repose of all things; sleep, thou gentlest of the deities; thou peace of the mind, from which care flies; who doest soothe the hearts of men wearied with the toils of the day, and refittest them for labor.


  • Beauties, when disposed to sleep,
  • Should from the eye of keen inspector keep:
  • The lovely nymph who would her swain surprise,
  • May close her mouth, but not conceal her eyes;
  • Sleep from the fairest face some beauty takes,
  • And all the homely features homelier makes.
  • Crabbe.

  • Softly, 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.

  • 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.
  • Shakespeare.

  • 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.
  • Shakespeare.

  • 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.
  • Shakespeare.

  • “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.

    The breath of peace was fanning her glorious brow, her head was bowed a very little forward, and a tress, escaping from its bonds, fell by the side of her pure white temple, and close to her just opened lips; it hung there motionless! no breath disturbed its repose! She slept as an angel might sleep, having accomplished the mission of her God.


  • 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!
  • Longfellow.

  • On eyes that watch as well as eyes that weep
  • Descends the solemn mystery of sleep,
  • Toiling and climbing to the very close,
  • The weary Body, longing for repose,
  • On the gained level of the day’s ascent,
  • Halts for the night and pitches there its tent.
  • Abraham Coles.

  • 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.

  • What means this heaviness that hangs upon me?
  • This lethargy that creeps through all my senses?
  • Nature, oppress’d and harass’d out with care,
  • Sinks down to rest.
  • Addison.

  • ’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.

  • 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.

    One-half of life is admitted by us to be passed in sleep, in which, however, it may appear otherwise, we have no perception of truth, and all our feelings are delusions; who knows but the other half of life, in which we think we are awake, is a sleep also, but in some respects different from the other, and from which we wake when we, as we call it, sleep. As a man dreams often that he is dreaming, crowding one dreamy delusion on another.


  • Sleep 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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?
  • Shakespeare.

  • 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.

  • O sleep! O sleep!
  • Do not forget me. Sometimes come and sweep,
  • Now I have nothing left, thy healing hand
  • Over the lids that crave thy visits bland,
  • Thou kind, thou comforting one.
  • For I have seen his face, as I desired,
  • And all my story is done.
  • O, I am tired.
  • Jean Ingelow.

    Where, in the sharp lineaments of rigid and unsightly death, is the calm beauty of slumber; telling of rest for the waking hours that are past, and gentle hopes and loves for those which are to come? Lay death and sleep down, side by side, and say who shall find the two akin. Send forth the child and childish man together, and blush for the pride that libels our own old happy state, and gives its title to an ugly and distorted image.


  • She bids you
  • Upon the wanton rushes lay you down,
  • And rest your gentle head upon her lap,
  • And she will sing the song that pleaseth you,
  • And 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 ’twixt day and night.
  • Shakespeare.

  • Man’s rich restorative; his balmy bath,
  • That supples, lubricates, and keep in play
  • The various movements of this nice machine,
  • Which asks such frequent periods of repair,
  • When tir’d with vain rotations of the day,
  • Sleep winds us up for the succeeding dawn;
  • Fresh we spin on, till sickness clogs our wheels,
  • Or death quite breaks the spring, and motion ends.
  • Young.

    It is a delicious moment, certainly, that of being well nestled in bed, and feeling that you shall drop gently to sleep. The good is to come, not past; the limbs have just been tired enough to render the remaining in one posture delightful; the labor of the day is gone. A gentle failure of the perceptions creeps over you; the spirit of consciousness disengages itself once more, and with slow and hushing degrees, like a mother detaching her hand from that of a sleeping child, the mind seems to have a balmy lid closing over it, like the eye—it is closed—the mysterious spirit has gone to take its airy rounds.

    Leigh Hunt.

    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.


  • The unchecked thought
  • Wanders at will upon enchanted ground,
  • Making no sound
  • In all the corridors***
  • The bell sleeps in the belfry—from its tongue
  • A drowsy murmur floats into the air,
  • Like thistle-down. Slumber is everywhere.
  • The rook’s asleep, and, in its dreaming, caws;
  • And silence mopes where nightingales have sung;
  • The Sirens lie in grottos cool and deep,
  • The Naiads in the streams.
  • T. B. Aldrich.

    To sleep—there is a drowsy mellifluence in the very word that would almost serve to interpret its meaning—to shut up the senses and hoodwink the soul; to dismiss the world; to escape from one’s self; to be in ignorance of our own existence; to stagnate upon the earth; just breathing out the hours, not living them—“doing no mischief, only dreaming of it;” neither merry nor melancholy, something between both, and better than either. Best friend of frail humanity, and, like all other friends, it is best estimated in its loss.