O Sleep, My Babe

by


O Sleep, My Babe was published in the anthology, The Oxford Book of English Verse (1900), compiled by the author Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch.
O SLEEP, my babe, hear not the rippling wave,
Nor feel the breeze that round thee ling'ring strays
      To drink thy balmy breath,
      And sigh one long farewell.

Soon shall it mourn above thy wat'ry bed,
And whisper to me, on the wave-beat shore,
      Deep murm'ring in reproach,
      Thy sad untimely fate.

Ere those dear eyes had open'd on the light,
In vain to plead, thy coming life was sold,
      O waken'd but to sleep,
      Whence it can wake no more!

A thousand and a thousand silken leaves
The tufted beech unfolds in early spring,
      All clad in tenderest green,
      All of the self-same shape:

A thousand infant faces, soft and sweet,
Each year sends forth, yet every mother views
      Her last not least beloved
      Like its dear self alone.

No musing mind hath ever yet foreshaped
The face to-morrow's sun shall first reveal,
      No heart hath e'er conceived
      What love that face will bring.

O sleep, my babe, nor heed how mourns the gale
To part with thy soft locks and fragrant breath,
      As when it deeply sighs
      O'er autumn's latest bloom.


This poem is featured in our selection of 100 Great Poems.


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