Verse > Anthologies > Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. > Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry
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Ralph Waldo Emerson, comp. (1803–1882).  Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry.  1880.
 
Sleep
By William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
 
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HOW many thousands of my poorest subjects
Are at this hour asleep!—O Sleep! O gentle sleep!
Nature’s soft nurse, how have I frighted thee,
That thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down,
And steep my senses in forgetfulness?        5
Why rather, sleep, liest thou in smoky cribs,
Upon uneasy pallets stretching thee,
And hushed with buzzing night-flies to thy slumber;
Than in the perfumed chambers of the great,
Under the canopies of costly state,        10
And lulled with sounds of sweetest melody?
O thou dull god, why liest thou with the vile,
In loathsome beds; and leav’st the kingly couch,
A watch-case, or a common ’larum bell?
Wilt thou upon the high and giddy mast        15
Seal up the ship-boy’s eyes, and rock his brains
In cradle of the rude imperious surge;
And in the visitation of the winds,
Who take the ruffian billows by the top,
Curling their monstrous heads, and hanging them        20
With deafening clamors in the slippery clouds,
That, with the hurly, death itself awakes?
Canst thou, O partial sleep! give thy repose
To the wet sea-boy in an hour so rude;
And, in the calmest and most stillest night,        25
With all appliances and means to boot,
Deny it to a king? Then, happy low, lie down!
Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.
 
 
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