Friday, July 22, 2011

Sonnet to Sleep - John Keats

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 passed day will shine
Upon my pillow, breeding many woes:
Save me from curious conscience, that still hoards
Its strength for darkness, burrowing like the mole;
Turn the key deftly in the oiled wards,
And seal the hushed casket of my soul.

I often find myself returning to Keats, and I think it's due to the lush beauty of his imagery.  I know of no better description of sleep.  Instead of boring myself with details, I'm going to let the poem do most of the speaking. I'd only like to add that the twinge of mortality the dying Keats added to the poem's ending with, "And seal the hushed casket of my soul" makes me shiver every time.  It's lovely and chilling.

As a side note, Keats makes me feel crushingly unaccomplished.  Dead by 25, and forever remembered as one of the greatest poets writing in the English language.  Amazing.

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