An Old Poet to Sleep

No God to mortals oftener descends
Than thou, O Sleep! yet thee the sad alone
Invoke, and gratefully thy gift receive.
Some thou invitest to explore the sands
Left by Pactolos, some to climb up higher,
Where points Ambition to the pomp of War;
Others thou watchest while they tighten robes
Which Law throws round them loose, and they meanwhile
Wink at the judge, and he the wink returns.
Apart sit fewer, whom thou lovest more
And leadest where unruffled rivers flow,
Or azure lakes neath azure skies expand.
These have no wider wishes, and no fears,
Unless a fear, in turning, to molest
The silent, solitary, stately swan,
Disdaining the garrulity of groves
Nor seeking shelter there from sun or storm.
Me also hast thou led among such scenes,
Gentlest of Gods! and Age appear'd far off
While thou wast standing close above the couch,
And whispered'st, in whisper not unheard,
‘I now depart from thee, but leave behind
‘My own twin-brother, friendly as myself,
‘Who soon shall take my place; men call him Death.
‘Thou hearest me, nor tremblest, as most do,
‘In sooth why shouldst thou? what man hast thou wrong'd
‘By deed or word? few dare ask this within.’
There was a pause; then suddenly said Sleep
‘He whom I named approacheth, so farewell.’
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