Tuesday, April 2, 2013

He Giveth His Beloved Sleep

Be blessed, my beloved, and sleep.

It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.

Psalm 127:2

The Sleep
Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Of all the thoughts of God that are
Borne inward unto souls afar,
Along the Psalmist's music deep,
Now tell me if that any is,
For gift or grace, surpassing this--
     "He giveth His beloved, sleep"?

What would we give to our beloved?
The hero's heart, to be unmoved,
The poet's star-tuned harp, to sweep,
The patriot's voice, to teach and rouse,
The monarch's crown to light the brows?
     "He giveth His beloved, sleep."

What do we give to our beloved?
A little faith, all undisproved,
A little dust, to overweep,
And bitter memories, to make
The whole earth blasted for our sake?
      "He giveth His beloved, sleep."

"Sleep soft, beloved?" we sometimes say,
But have no tune to charm away
Sad dreams that through the eyelids creep.
But never doleful dream again
Shall break the happy slumber, when
     "He giveth His beloved, sleep."

O earth, so full of dreary noises!
O men, with wailing in your voices!
O delved gold, the wailers heap!
O strife, O curse, that o'er it fall!
God makes a silence through you all,
     And "giveth His beloved, sleep."

His dews drop mutely on the hill,
His cloud above it saileth still,
Though on its slope men sow and reap.
More softly than the dew is shed,
Or cloud is floated overhead,
     "He giveth His beloved, sleep."

Yea, men may wonder while they scan
A living, thinking, feeling man,
Confirmed, in such a rest to keep;
But angels say--and through the word
I think their happy smile is heard--
     "He giveth His beloved, sleep."

For me, my heart that erst did go
Most like a tired child at a show,
That sees through tears the jugglers leap,--
Would now its wearied vision close,
Would childlike on His love repose,
     Who "giveth His beloved, sleep."

And, friends, dear friends,--when it shall be
That this low breath is gone from me,
And round my bier ye come to weep,
Let one, most loving of you all,
Say, "Not a tear must o'er her fall--
     He giveth His beloved, sleep."

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