To Sleep

John Keats (1795-1821)

O soft embalmer of the still midnight,
    Shutting, with careful fingers and benign,
Our gloom-pleas’d eyes, embower’d from the light,
    Enshaded in forgetfulness divine:
O soothest Sleep! if so it please thee, close
    In midst of this thine hymn my willing eyes,
Or wait the “Amen,” ere thy poppy throws
    Around my bed its lulling charities.
Then save me, or the passed day will shine
Upon my pillow, breeding many woes,—
    Save me from curious Conscience, that still lords
Its strength for darkness, burrowing like a mole;
    Turn the key deftly in the oiled wards,
And seal the hushed Casket of my Soul.
Aromatist of still midnight,
Closing with digits kind and good
Our gloom-fond orbs, cut off from light,
Snug in oblivion’s holy hood:
O forty winks! Dormition! Cull
My willing gig-lamps as I sing,
Till at my ‘Schluss!’ your opiums lull,
Charitably, my sluggarding.
Thwart now (or this past day will flood
My pillow, spawning, sorrowful) –
Thwart anxious Conscious Thought, that lords
Its night-might, burrowing, black as coal;
Turn your swift Chubb in my smooth wards:
Shut tight my Dropbox, hush my soul.
Translation: Copyright © Timothy Adès

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