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ODE TO SLEEP.

I.
1 FRIEND to the gloomy shade of night!
2 Vast source of fanciful delight!
3 Power! whose care-dissolving sway,
4 The slave that pants o'er Indian hills,
5 The wretch whom snow-girt Zembla chills,
6 And wide creation's fertile race obey;
7 The joyous choristers that flit in air,
8 The mutes that dwell beneath the silver flood,
9 The savage howling o'er th' affrighted wood,
10 And man, th' imperious lord of all, thy power declare.
II.
11 Thy magic wand can oft restrain
12 The miser's sordid hopes of pain;
13 Can make each heart-felt trouble cease:
14 Or from the sickening thought suspend
15 The image of a dying friend;
16 And lull Suspicion's wakeful eyes in peace.
17 If thou but soothe the faithful lover's rest,
18 No fond remembrance of each parting sigh.
19 Of beauty's smile, or pity's streaming eye,
20 In grief's soft moments steal around his asking breast.
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III.
21 Fair virtue's friend! thou ne'er shalt shed
22 Thy blessings o'er the impious head,
23 Or 'midst the noise of crowds be found;
24 Thy balm-distilling sweets alone
25 To ermin'd Innocence are known,
26 And gay Content with rural garlands crown'd.
27 By thee the shadow-trembling murderer's guilt
28 With doubled terror wrings the tortur'd soul,
29 The purpled steel, the life-destructive bowl,
30 Recall the baleful horrors of the blood he spilt.
IV.
31 When by some pale and livid light
32 I cheat the tedious hours of night,
33 Indulging o'er the Attic page:
34 The dying taper warns to rest,
35 Thy visions seize my ravish'd breast,
36 And pictur'd beauties real woes assuage.
37 O'er Helicon
r Hesiod is said to have led the life of a shepherd on mount Helicon, where, as he relates in his Theogony, the Muses appeared to him, and adopted him in their service. V. 24.
my bleating lambs I guard,
38 Or mix'd with dull Boeotia's simple swains
39 Protect my flocks in humble Ascra's plains,
40 And view the sky-born sisters hail their favourite bard.
V.
41 Methinks I hear the Theban lyre:
42 I feel my ravish'd soul aspire:
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43 The nymphs surround the infant boy.
44 Already conscious of his fame
45 The sestive choirs their hopes proclaim,
46 While Pan exults with uncouth signs of joy;
47 For thee
s Pindar: whose birth the Nymphs and Pan are said to have solemnized with dances: we are likewise told, that in his infancy the bees sed him with their honey. He was born at Thebes, the capital of Bæotia, a province remarkable for the dulness of its inhabitants, of which he himself takes notice in his Olympics.
, sole glory of thy abject race,
48 The thyme-fed bees their luscious sweets diffuse,
49 To soothe the numbers of thy copious muse,
50 And in Boeotia fix each coy reluctant grace.
VI.
51 Oft fir'd with Bacchanalian rage,
52 The
t Aeschylus, who was reported never to have wrote but when inspirited by wine; he had a particular genius for terrifying the audience: of which the Chorus of Furies in his Eumenides is a remarkable and well known instance. He was buried near the river Gela, where the tragedians performed dramas at his tomb.
Father of the Grecian stage
53 In terror clad annoys my rest;
54 I feel unnumber'd horrors rise!
55 The sight forsakes my swimming eyes,
56 While hissing furies rush upon my breast.
57 In solemn pomp, I see old Gela mourn,
58 Dissolv'd in grief beside the poet's grave
59 To sorrowing sounds he lulls each plaintive wave,
60 His willows fading and his sea-green mantle torn.
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VII.
61 With longing taste, with eager lip,
62 In raptur'd visions oft I sip
63 The honeys of the tragic
u Sophocles, who, it is said, was able to check the fury of the winds and sea. Philostratus de Vita Apollonii Tyanei, lib. viii. pag. 393.
bee;
64 Whose strains could every tempest quell,
65 Could every noxious blast dispell,
66 And still the hollow roaring of the sea.
67 Whose powerful fancy, whose exhaustless vein,
68 Whose daring genius, whose triumphant wing,
69 Deep source from whence ten thousand rivers spring,
70 Just bounds could limit, and each rigid rule restrain.
VIII.
71 How oft inspir'd with magic dread,
72 By fancy to the cave I'm led
73 Where sits the wise Piérian
x Euripides, who, we learn from Aul. Gellius lib. xv. cap. 20, pag. 418. was reported to have wrote many of his tragedies in an old melancholy cave. He was generally distinguished by the epithet of Wise.
sage;
74 With piercing eye, with pensive mind,
75 In attic solitude reclin'd,
76 Stern virtue's precepts chill the poet's rage.
77 Blest bard! whose muse, mid mildest morals strong,
78 Could each rebellious appetite controul,
79 Could wake each tender feeling of the soul,
80 And deck instruction in the pleasing charms of song.
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IX.
81 With patriot ardor I behold
82 The
y Aristophanes, who is esteemed to have been of singular service to the commonwealth, by representing to his fellow-citizens the pernicious designs of their leading men.
mirthful muse for freedom bold;
83 Tho' chaste, severe; tho' poignant, sweet;
84 For long uncertain where to rest,
85 At length upon the poet's breast
86 The sportive Graces fix'd their gay retreat.
87 With simpler strains the
z Theocritus.
Doric muses charm,
88 And oft to nobler themes of heavenly praise
89 As Lybia's
a Callimachus.
poet hymns his solemn lays,
90 The wanton Teïan
b Anacreon.
loves each chaster thought disarm.
X.
91 Thus may thy languid charms dispense
92 Their blessings o'er my ravish'd sense
93 By thee to Attic worlds convey'd.
94 Thus if at Juno's
c Alluding to a passage in Homer. Iliad ε V. 233.
fond request
95 Thou e'er on Ida's top opprest
96 Th' Almighty Thunderer with thy dewy shade,
97 To soothe one mortal thy fond care empley!
98 And, Morpheus, thus may thy mild Lethéan powers,
99 For ever hovering round my midnight hours,
100 Thro' Fancy's mirror wrap me in idéal joy.

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About this text

Title (in Source Edition): ODE TO SLEEP.
Themes: sleep
Genres: ode
References: DMI 32279

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Source edition

A collection of poems in four volumes. By several hands. Vol. I. [The second edition]. London: printed for G. Pearch, 1770, pp. 115-119. 4v. ; 8⁰. (ESTC T116245; DMI 1122; OTA K093079.001)

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