Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
304. Watching
By Emily Chubbuck Judson
SLEEP, love, sleep!
The dusty day is done.
Lo! from afar the freshening breezes sweep
Wide over groves of balm,
Down from the towering palm,        5
In at the open casement cooling run,
And round thy lowly bed,
Thy bed of pain,
Bathing thy patient head,
Like grateful showers of rain,        10
They come;
While the white curtains, waving to and fro,
Fan the sick air;
And pitying the shadows come and go,
With gentle human care,        15
Compassionate and dumb.
The dusty day is done,
The night begun;
While prayerful watch I keep,
Sleep, love, sleep!        20
Is there no magic in the touch
Of fingers thou dost love so much?
Fain would they scatter poppies o’er thee now;
Or, with its mute caress,
The tremulous lip some soft nepenthe press        25
Upon thy weary lid and aching brow;
While prayerful watch I keep,
Sleep, love, sleep!
On the pagoda spire
The bells are swinging,        30
Their little golden circlet in a flutter
With tales the wooing winds have dared to utter
Till all are ringing,
As if a choir
Of golden-nested birds in heaven were singing;        35
And with a lulling sound
The music floats around,
And drops like balm into the drowsy ear;
Commingling with the hum
Of the Sepoy’s distant drum,        40
And lazy beetle ever droning near.
Sounds these of deepest silence born,
Like night made visible by morn;
So silent that I sometimes start
To hear the throbbings of my heart,        45
And watch, with shivering sense of pain,
To see thy pale lids lift again.
The lizard, with his mouse-like eyes,
Peeps from the mortise in surprise
At such strange quiet after day’s harsh din;        50
Then boldly ventures out,
And looks about,
And with his hollow feet
Treads his small evening beat,
Darting upon his prey        55
In such a tricky, winsome sort of way,
His delicate marauding seems no sin.
And still the curtains swing,
But noiselessly;
The bells a melancholy murmur ring,        60
And tears were in the sky:
More heavily the shadows fall,
Like the black foldings of a pall
Where juts the rough beam from the wall;
The candles flare        65
With fresher gusts of air;
The beetle’s drone
Turns to a dirge-like, solitary moan;
Night deepens, and I sit in cheerless doubt, alone.


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