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The Poets

January 09, 2012

Ode to Sleep

Thomas Warton, born on this day in 1728, was an English poet-laureate and professor of poetry. What I like about him, apart from his poetic style, is that he was a studier of the history and historical origins of poetry. I haven’t known him as well as other 18th century poets, but what I’ve read of his seems very typical to that period (one of my favorite periods in poetry’s history).

If you haven’t, you should check out a poem or two of his today, good stuff. Happy b-day, big guy!

Here, take a taste of one of his poems (the imagery of the last stanza … wow):


Ode to Sleep

On this my pensive pillow, gentle Sleep!
Descend, in all thy downy plumage drest:
Wipe with thy wing these eyes that wake to weep,
And place thy crown of poppies on my breast.

O steep my senses in oblivion's balm,
And sooth my throbbing pulse with lenient hand;
This tempest of my boiling blood becalm!
Despair grows mild at thy supreme command.

Yet ah! in vain, familiar with the gloom,
And sadly toiling through the tedious night,
I seek sweet slumber, while that virgin bloom,
For ever hovering, haunts my wretched sight.

Nor would the dawning day my sorrows charm:
Black midnight and the blaze of noon alike
To me appear, while with uplifted arm
Death stands prepar'd, but still delays, to strike.

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