O soft embalmer of the still midnight!
O soft embalmer of the still midnight!
Shutting with careful fingers and benign
Our gloom-pleas'd eyes, embower'd from the light,
Enshaded in forgetfulness divine;
O soothest Sleep! if so it please thee, close
In midst of this thine hymn my willing eyes,
Or wait the "Amen" ere thy poppy throws
Around my bed its lulling charities.
Then save me, or the passèd day will shine
Upon my pillow, breeding many woes, -
Save me from curious Conscience, that still [lords]1
Its strength for darkness, burrowing like [a]2 mole;
Turn the key deftly in the oilèd wards,
And seal the hushèd Casket of my Soul.
Translation(s): FRE NYN SPA
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View original text (without footnotes)
First published in a Plymouth newspaper in 1838
1 changed to "hoards" by Richard Woodhouse, and kept by Keats in the second transcription. Chávez uses this version.
2 changed to "the" in Keats' second transcription. Chávez uses this as well.
Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]
Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)
- by (Edward) Maurice Besly (1888 - 1945), "Sleep", published 1922 [SATB chorus a cappella], London : Curwen [ sung text not verified ]
- by (Edward) Benjamin Britten (1913 - 1976), "Sonnet", op. 31 no. 6 (1943), published 1944, first performed 1943 [tenor, horn, and strings or piano], from Serenade for tenor, horn and strings, no. 6, London : Boosey & Hawkes [ sung text verified 1 time]
- by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (1895 - 1968), "To Sleep", published 1954 [SATB chorus a cappella], NY : Galaxy [ sung text not verified ]
- by Carlos Chávez (1899 - 1978), "Sonnet to Sleep", published 1946 [SSAATTBB chorus a cappella], from Three Nocturnes, no. 1. [ sung text verified 1 time]
- by David M. Epstein (1930 - 2002), "To Sleep", published 1963 [soprano and strings], from Four Songs, NY : Carl Fischer [ sung text not verified ]
- by Hans Gál (1890 - 1987), "To Sleep", op. 61 no. 3 (1953?), published 1954 [SATB chorus a cappella], from Four Part-Songs, no. 3, Boosey & Hawkes, London [ sung text not verified ]
- by Scott Gendel (b. 1977), "To sleep", 2000 [medium-high voice and piano], from Keats Songs, no. 2. [ sung text verified 1 time]
- by Michael Karp , "To Sleep", published 1978. [SATB chorus and piano] [ sung text not verified ]
- by Bernard James Naylor (1907 - 1986), "To Sleep", published 1952 [voice and piano], London : Augener [ sung text not verified ]
- by Solomon Pimsleur (1900 - 1962), "Sleep", 1927-8 [SATB quartet or chorus and string quartet or orchestra], from Sonnet-Tableau [ sung text not verified ]
- by Alec Rowley (1892 - 1958), "Song to Sleep", published 1936 [voice and piano], London : Edward Arnold [ sung text not verified ]
- by Egon Joseph Wellesz (1885 - 1974), "To Sleep", published 1965 [SATB chorus a cappella], London : Novello [ sung text not verified ]
- by Robert B. Whitcomb (b. 1921), "To Sleep", 1952-3 [mezzo-soprano and piano], from Two Sonnets [ sung text not verified ]
- by Donald H. White , "Sonnet", published 1979. [narrator followed by symphonic band] [ sung text not verified ]
- by (James) Healey Willan (1880 - 1968), "Sonnet -- To Sleep", published 1925 [medium voice and piano], London : Frederick Harris [ sung text not verified ]
Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):
- FRE French (Français) (Jean-Pierre Granger) , "Sonnet", copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
- NYN Norwegian (Nynorsk) (Are Frode Søholt) , "Sonnette", copyright © 2004, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
- SPA Spanish (Español) (Pablo Sabat) , "Soneto"
Text added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:01:36
Line count: 14
Word count: 104
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- Emily Ezust
Language: French (Français) after the English
Ô doux embaumeur de la nuit paisible !
Fermant de ses doigts soigneux et bienveillants
Nos yeux enjôlés par les ténèbres, abrités de la lumière,
Ombragés dans l'oubli divin !
Ô sommeil apaisant ! Si tel est ton désir, ferme
Pendant ton cantique, mes yeux consentants ;
Ou attends l'amen avant que ton pavot ne jette
Autour de mon lit ses dons rassurants.
Puis sauve-moi ! Sinon le jour éteint brillera
Sur mon oreiller, engendrant maints chagrins.
Sauve-moi de la Conscience curieuse qui toujours impose
Sa force dans les ténèbres, fouissant telle une taupe
Tourne adroitement la clef dans les gardes huilées
Et scelle le silencieux Coffret de mon Âme.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The material directly above is protected by copyright and appears here by special permission. If you wish to copy it and distribute it, you must obtain permission or you will be breaking the law. Once you have permission, you must give credit to the author and display the copyright symbol ©. Copyright infringement is a criminal offense under international law.
- Translation from English to French (Français) copyright © 2010 by Jean-Pierre Granger, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you must ask the copyright-holder(s) directly for permission. If you receive no response, you must consider it a refusal.
Jean-Pierre Granger. Contact:
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If you wish to commission a new translation, please contact:
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- a text in English by John Keats (1795 - 1821), "To Sleep", written 1819? NYN SPA
- This text was set to music by the following composer(s): Maurice Besly, Benjamin Britten, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Carlos Chávez, David M. Epstein, Hans Gál, Scott Gendel, Michael Karp, Bernard James Naylor, Solomon Pimsleur, Alec Rowley, Egon Joseph Wellesz, Robert B. Whitcomb, Donald H. White, Healey Willan. Go to the text.
Text added to the website: 2010-11-11.
Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:04:07
Line count: 14
Word count: 111