Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
Invocation to Sleep
By John Fletcher (1579–1625)
CARE-CHARMING 1 Sleep, thou easer of all woes,
Brother to Death, sweetly thyself dispose
On this afflicted prince; fall like a cloud
In gentle showers; give nothing that is loud
Or painful to his slumbers; easy, light,        5
And as a purling stream, thou son of Night
Pass by his troubled senses; sing his pain 2
Like hollow murmuring wind or silver rain;
In to this prince gently, O gently, slide,
And kiss him into slumbers like a bride.        10
Note 1. From The Tragedy of Valentinian, 1647, act v. sc. 2. [back]
Note 2. Sung his pain: First folio reads Sings his pain. Coleman suggests that the true reading should be either soothe or suage. William Cartwright’s The Seige or Love’s Convert, 1651, contains an echo of this beautiful invocation:
  Seal up her eyes, O Sleep, but flow
Mild as her manners, to and fro;
Slide soft into her, that yet she
May receive no wound from thee.
And ye present her thoughts, O dreams,
With hushing winds and purling streams,
Whiles hovering Silence sits without,
Careful to keep disturbance out.
Then seize her, Sleep, thus her again resign:
So what was Heaven’s gift we’ll reckon thine.

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