[Page 189]

ODE ON SLEEP.

1 WHY, gentle God, this long delay,
2 Since night, and careless quiet reigns?
3 O hither take thy silent way,
4 And sooth, ah sooth my wakeful pains!
5 So shall my hands for thee the wreath entwine,
6 And strew fresh poppies at thy votive shrine.
7 When from the North, all wan and pale,
8 The sun withdraws his chearful light,
9 And arm'd with whirlwind, frost, and hail,
10 The big clouds bring the half-year's night,
11 Quick to their caves the shivering natives tend,
12 And hear without the rattling storms descend.
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13 Then stretcht along the shaggy bed,
14 To thee, indulgent Power, they cry;
15 Born on thy wings, with happier speed,
16 The leaden-footed moments fly;
17 While Fancy paints Spring's visionary stores,
18 And calls the distant sun to wake the slumbering flowers.
19 Nor yet is Sleep's supreme command
20 Confin'd to these cold dreary plains,
21 O'er sultry Lybia's boiling sand
22 This universal monarch reigns;
23 And where with heat the sable Indians glow,
24 While streams of light thro' purest aether flow.
25 Weary and faint the dusky slaves
26 From cold Potosi's mines retire,
27 From rugged rocks, and darkling caves,
28 When scarce the panting lungs respire:
29 To citron-shades they take their pensive way,
30 Where bath'd in odorous winds their listless limbs they lay.
31 The tyrant's voice, the galling chain,
32 Th' uplifted scourge no more they fear,
33 Deep slumbers drown the sense of pain;
34 And floating thro' the peopled air
35 Ideal forms in pleasing order rise,
36 And bright illusions swim before their eyes.
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37 Now Orellana's foaming tide
38 With pliant arms they seem to cleave;
39 And now the light canoe to guide
40 Across Muenca's glassy wave;
41 Or chase in jocund troops the savage prey,
42 Thro' woods impervious to the solar ray.
43 Some gentle youth, by love betray'd,
44 Recalls the joys he felt of old,
45 When wandering with his sable maid
46 Thro' groves of vegetable gold,
47 He claspt her yielding to his raptur'd breast,
48 And free from guile his honest soul exprest.
49 Sleep on, much injur'd hapless swain,
50 Nor wake thy cruel fate to moan,
51 To curse th' insatiate thirst of gain,
52 And proud Iberia's
u Hernando Cortez. See the History of the Conquest of Mexico and Peru by the Spaniards.
bloody son!
53 Old India's Genius wept o'er millions slain,
54 And streams of gore ran foaming to the main.
55 But why to tragic scenes like these,
56 Wilt thou, my restless Fancy, rove?
57 Bear me to climes of downy ease,
58 To climes that sleep and silence love:
59 Whether the shades of Lemnos most invite,
60 Or dark Cimmerian caves the still abode of night.
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61 Fond fables all! The partial God
62 Is flown to Belgia's drowzy plains,
63 There waves his Lethe-sprinkled rod,
64 And linkt with kindred Dulness reigns;
65 Midst stagnant pools, the bittern's safe retreat,
66 Beset with oziers dank, behold his gloomy seat!
67 His dwelling is a straw-built shed,
68 Safe from the sun's too curious eye;
69 A yew-tree rears its blighted head,
70 And frogs and rooks are croaking nigh:
71 Thro' many a chink the hollow murmuring breeze
72 Sounds like the distant hum of swarming bees.
73 And more to feed his slumbers soft,
74 And lull him in his senseless swoon,
75 The hard rain beats upon the loft,
76 And swiftly-trickling tumbles down:
77 All livelier, ruder sounds are banish'd far,
78 The lute's shrill voice, and brazen throat of war.
79 Hence let me woo thee, God of Ease,
80 Ah leave thy favourite haunt awhile,
81 And bid the midnight hours to please,
82 And bid the midnight gloom to smile!
83 Oh come, and o'er my weary limbs diffuse
84 The slumberous weight of sweet oblivious dews!
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85 Bring too thy soft, enchanting dreams,
86 Such as enamour'd Petrarch knew,
87 When stretcht by Sorgia's gentle streams,
88 Fair Laura's form his fancy drew:
89 Of see he woos the soul-dissolving maid,
90 And grasps with eager arms the visionary shade.
91 At morn he sung the tender tale,
92 He sung his Laura's matchless charms,
93 And every tree, in Clausa's vale,
94 Attentive breath'd Love's soft alarms;
95 Even hoary monks full many a careless bead
96 Have dropt, and left their aves half unsaid.

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About this text

Title (in Source Edition): ODE ON SLEEP.
Author: James Scott
Themes: sleep
Genres: ode
References: DMI 32510

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Source edition

A collection of poems in four volumes. By several hands. Vol. II. [The second edition]. London: printed for G. Pearch, 1770, pp. 189-193. 4v. ; 8⁰. (ESTC T116245; DMI 1135; OTA K093079.002)

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The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the ECCO-TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 3.0.