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Thomas R. Lounsbury, ed. (1838–1915). Yale Book of American Verse. 1912.

John Godfrey Saxe 1816–1887

John Godfrey Saxe

114 Early Rising

“GOD bless the man who first invented sleep!”

So Sancho Panza said, and so say I:

And bless him, also, that he did n’t keep

His great discovery to himself; nor try

To make it—as the lucky fellow might—

A close monopoly by patent-right!

Yes; bless the man who first invented sleep

(I really can’t avoid the iteration),

But blast the man, with curses loud and deep,

Whate’er the rascal’s name, or age, or station,

Who first invented, and went round advising,

That artificial cut-off, Early Rising!

“Rise with the lark, and with the lark to bed,”

Observes some solemn, sentimental owl;

Maxims like these are very cheaply said;

But, ere you make yourself a fool or fowl,

Pray just inquire about his rise and fall,

And whether larks have any beds at all!

The time for honest folks to be a-bed

Is in the morning, if I reason right;

And he who cannot keep his precious head

Upon his pillow till it ’s fairly light,

And so enjoy his forty morning winks,

Is up to knavery; or else—he drinks!

Thomson, who sung about the “Seasons,” said

It was a glorious thing to rise in season;

But then he said it—lying—in his bed,

At ten o’clock A.M.,—the very reason

He wrote so charmingly. The simple fact is,

His preaching was n’t sanctioned by his practice.

’T is, doubtless, well to be sometimes awake,—

Awake to duty, and awake to truth,—

But when, alas! a nice review we take

Of our best deeds and days, we find, in sooth,

The hours that leave the slightest cause to weep

Are those we passed in childhood or asleep!

’T is beautiful to leave the world awhile

For the soft visions of the gentle night;

And free, at last, from mortal care or guile,

To live as only in the angels’ sight,

In sleep’s sweet realm so cosily shut in,

Where, at the worst, we only dream of sin!

So let us sleep, and give the Maker praise.

I like the lad who, when his father thought

To clip his morning nap by hackneyed phrase

Of vagrant worm by early songster caught,

Cried, “Served him right!—it ’s not at all surprising;

The worm was punished, sir, for early rising!”