How shall I wooe thee gentle rest
Titles: To Sleep [F-H 283]; An Invocation to Sleep [Folger].
Primary Texts: MS's: F-H 283, 124-7*; Folger, 290-1.
How shall I woo thee, gentle rest,
To a sad Mind, with cares oppresst?
By what soft means, shall I invite
Thy Pow'rs, into my Soul to Night?
Yet gentle Sleep, if thou wilt come,
Such darknesse, shall prepare the room,
As thy own Pallace overspreads,
(Thy Pallace stor'd, with peacefull beds)
And silence too, shall on thee waite,
Great, as in the Turkish State.
Whilst still as death, I will be found,
My arms by one another bound,
And my dull lidds, so clos'd shall be,
As if already seal'd by thee.
Thus I'll dispose, the outward part,
Would I could quiet, too my heart.
But in that anxious rebells stead
Behold, I offer thee my head,
My head, I better can comand,
And that I bow, beneath thy hand.
Nor do I think, that heretofore
Our first great Father, gave thee more,
When on a flowry bank, he lay
And did thy strictest Laws obey;
For, to compose his lovely Bride,
He yielded not alone his side,
But as we judge, by the event
Half of his heart, too with itt went,
Which waking, drew him soon away
To the fair bosome, where itt lay;
Pleas'd to admit his rightfull claim,
And leaning still, tow'rds whence it came.
Then gentle Sleep, expect from me
No more than I have proffer'd thee;
For, if thou wilt not hear my Pray'rs,
'Till I have vanquish'd all my cares
Thou'lt stay,'till kinder death supplys thy place,
The surer Freind, though with the harsher face.
Secondary Eds: 1903 Reynolds prints Folger text, 16-7; rpts of 1903 Reynolds: 1928 Murray 28-9; 1930 Fausset, 7-8; 1979 Rogers AF, 21-2; 1987 Thompson, 36-7.
Comment: I love this poem.
Date: I date this after 1696-1700/1 as it originates in the poem's described situation: she is at Eastwell probably ("Thy Pallace, stor'd with peacefull Beds"), but still her "Sad Mind" and "unquiet" "overburthen'd Heart" cannot rest.
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Page Last Updated 7 January 2003