Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. III. Sorrow and Consolation
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume III. Sorrow and Consolation.  1904.
 
V. Death and Bereavement
The Sleep
Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–1861)
 
 “He giveth his belovèd sleep.”
—PSALM cxxvii. 2.    

OF all the thoughts of God that are
Borne inward unto souls afar,
Among the Psalmist’s music deep,
Now tell me if that any is,
For gift or grace, surpassing this,—        5
“He giveth his belovèd sleep”?
 
What would we give to our beloved?
The hero’s heart, to be unmoved,—
The poet’s star-tuned harp, to sweep,—
The patriot’s voice, to teach and rouse,—        10
The monarch’s crown, to light the brows?
“He giveth his belovèd sleep.”
 
What do we give to our beloved?
A little faith, all undisproved,—
A little dust to overweep,        15
And bitter memories, to make
The whole earth blasted for our sake,
“He giveth his belovèd sleep.”
 
“Sleep soft, beloved!” we sometimes say,
But have no tune to charm away        20
Sad dreams that through the eyelids creep;
But never doleful dream again
Shall break the happy slumber when
“He giveth his belovèd sleep.”
 
O earth, so full of dreary noise!        25
O men, with wailing in your voice!
O delvèd gold the wailers heap!
O strife, O curse, that o’er it fall!
God strikes a silence through you all,
“He giveth his belovèd sleep.”        30
 
His dews drop mutely on the hill,
His cloud above it saileth still,
Though on its slope men sow and reap;
More softly than the dew is shed,
Or cloud is floated overhead,        35
“He giveth his belovèd sleep.”
 
For me, my heart, that erst did go
Most like a tired child at a show,
That sees through tears the mummers leap,
Would now its wearied vision close,        40
Would childlike on his love repose
Who “giveth his belovèd sleep.”
 
 
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