This poem, a hymn, is a gentle one. It is written by John Keats (1795 – 1821) and this poem is all about the desire to go to sleep.
Keats managed to write about that moment to visit that place that is so wonderful, so calming, so relaxing. He even takes it a step further. This desire should possess him. It should prevent him from thinking about the struggles of everyday life. The night is without struggles. Sleep is an escape from these struggles.
Like many of the poems we publish on our website and are written a long time ago, this poem has not lost its strength. The used language is that of the eighteenth and nineteenth century. If you try not to be distracted by this, it results in reading a beautiful poem. A poem with the message that there is escape from the harsh life and that one is sleep.
If you are willing to go further, there is also the possibility that this sleep is more. That in this poem, Keats longs for something else: to break free from those struggles by dying.
Sonnet to sleep
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.
— John Keats