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. Nosegays! leave them for the waking: Throw them earthward where they grew. Dim are such, beside the breaking Amaranths he looks unto--- Folded eyes see brighter colours than the open ever do. Heaven-flowers, rayed by shadows golden From the paths they sprang beneath, Now perhaps divinely holden, Swing against him in a wreath--- We may think so from the quickening of his bloom and of his breath. ]1 Vision unto vision calleth, While the young child dreameth on. Fair, O dreamer, thee befalleth With the glory thou hast won! Darker wert thou in the garden, yestermorn, by summer sun. We should see the spirits [ringing]2 Round thee, -- were the clouds away. 'Tis the child-heart draws them, singing In the silent-seeming clay -- Singing! -- Stars that seem the mutest, go in music all the way. [ As the moths around a taper, As the bees around a rose, As the gnats around a vapour,--- So the Spirits group and close Round about a holy childhood, as if drinking its repose. Shapes of brightness overlean thee,--- Flash their diadems of youth On the ringlets which half screen thee,--- While thou smilest, . . . not in sooth Thy smile . . . but the overfair one, dropt from some aethereal mouth. Haply it is angels' duty, During slumber, shade by shade: To fine down this childish beauty To the thing it must be made, Ere the world shall bring it praises, or the tomb shall see it fade.]1 Softly, softly! make no noises! Now he lieth [dead]3 and dumb -- Now he hears the angels' voices Folding silence in the room -- Now he muses deep the meaning of the Heaven-words as they come. [ Speak not! he is consecrated -- Breathe no breath across his eyes. Lifted up and separated, On the hand of God he lies, In a sweetness beyond touching -- held in cloistral sanctities. Could ye bless him -- father -- mother ? Bless the dimple in his cheek? Dare ye look at one another, And the benediction speak? Would ye not break out in weeping, and confess yourselves too weak? ]1 He is harmless -- [ye]4 are sinful, -- [Ye]4 are troubled -- he, at ease: From his slumber, virtue winful Floweth outward with increase -- Dare not bless him! but be blessed by his peace -- and go in peace.
About the headline (FAQ)View original text (without footnotes)
1 omitted by Elgar
2 Elgar: "rising"
3 Elgar: "still"
4 Elgar: "we"
- by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806 - 1861), "The Dream", appears in Finden's Tableaux, first published 1840, revised 1844 [author's text checked 1 time against a primary source]
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 Elgar, Sir (1857 - 1934), "A child asleep", published 1910. [voice, piano] [text verified 1 time]
- by Rudolph T. Werther (1896 - 1986), "A child sleepeth", 1960 [voice and piano], from Song Cycle : On Children, no. 1, note: this may be the wrong text for this title [text not verified]
Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]
Text added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:01:23
Line count: 60
Word count: 414