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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Emily Chubbuck Judson (Fanny Forrester) (1817–1854)


SLEEP, love, sleep!

The dusty day is done.

Lo! from afar the freshening breezes sweep

Wide over groves of balm;

Down from the towering palm,

In at the open casement cooling run:

And round thy lowly bed,

Thy bed of pain,

Bathing thy patient head,

Like grateful showers of rain,

They come;

While the white curtains, waving to and fro,

Fan the sick air;

And pityingly the shadows come and go,

With gentle human care,

Compassionate and dumb.

The dusty day is done,

The night begun.

While prayerful watch I keep,

Sleep, love, sleep!

Is there no magic in the touch

Of fingers thou dost love so much?

Fain would they scatter poppies o’er thee now,

Or, with a soft caress,

The tremulous lip its own nepenthe press

Upon the weary lid and aching brow.

While prayerful watch I keep,

Sleep, love, sleep!

On the pagoda spire

The bells are swinging,

Their little golden circles in a flutter

With tales the wooing winds have dared to utter,

Till all are ringing

As if a choir

Of golden-nested birds in heaven were singing:

And with a loving sound

The music floats around,

And drops like balm into the drowsy ear,

Commingling with the hum

Of the Sepoy’s distant drum,

And lazy beetle ever droning near.

Sounds these of deepest silence born,

Like night made visible by morn;

So silent, that I sometimes start

To hear the throbbing of my heart,

And watch, with shivering sense of pain,

To see thy pale lids lift again.

The lizard, with his mouse-like eyes,

Peeps from the mortise in surprise

At such strange quiet after day’s harsh din;

Then ventures boldly out,

And looks about,

And with his hollow feet

Treads his small evening beat,

Darting upon his prey

In such a tricksy, winsome sort of way,

His delicate marauding seems no sin.

And still the curtains swing,

But noiselessly;

The bells a melancholy murmur ring,

As tears were in the sky;

More heavily the shadows fall,

Like the black foldings of a pall,

Where juts the rough beam from the wall;

The candles flare

With fresher gusts of air;

The beetle’s drone

Turns to a dirge-like, solitary moan:

Night deepens, and I sit, in cheerless doubt, alone.