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A Celebration of Sleep and Dreaming this National Poetry Day

September 30, 2021
national poetry day 2021

A peaceful night’s slumber for each of our guests is of the utmost importance to us, so we decided to celebrate this National Poetry Day (7th October 2021) with a selection of some of our favourite poems about sleep and dreaming.

Whether you are reading this under your own roof or right here with us, we hope that these poems inspire a perfect night’s sleep tonight…

Monna Innominata [I dream of you, to wake] – Christina Rossetti 

I dream of you, to wake: would that I might
Dream of you and not wake but slumber on;
Nor find with dreams the dear companion gone,
As, Summer ended, Summer birds take flight.
In happy dreams I hold you full in night.
I blush again who waking look so wan;
Brighter than sunniest day that ever shone,
In happy dreams your smile makes day of night.
Thus only in a dream we are at one,
Thus only in a dream we give and take
The faith that maketh rich who take or give;
If thus to sleep is sweeter than to wake,
To die were surely sweeter than to live,
Though there be nothing new beneath the sun.

The Dream Keeper – Langston Hughes

Bring me all of your dreams,
You dreamer,
Bring me all your
Heart melodies
That I may wrap them
In a blue cloud-cloth
Away from the too-rough fingers
Of the world.

We dream – it is good we are dreaming – Emily Dickinson

We dream—it is good we are dreaming—
It would hurt us—were we awake—
But since it is playing—kill us,
And we are playing—shriek—

What harm? Men die—externally—
It is a truth—of Blood—
But we—are dying in Drama—
And Drama—is never dead—

Cautious—We jar each other—
And either—open the eyes—
Lest the Phantasm—prove the Mistake—
And the livid Surprise

Cool us to Shafts of Granite—
With just an Age—and Name—
And perhaps a phrase in Egyptian—
It’s prudenter—to dream—

To Sleep – John Keats

O soft embalmer of the still midnight!
  Shutting with careful fingers and benign
Our gloom-pleased 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 passèd 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 oilèd wards,
  And seal the hushèd casket of my soul.

Life is but a Dream – Lewis Carroll

A boat, beneath a sunny sky
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July

Children three that nestle near,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Pleased a simple tale to hear

Long has paled that sunny sky;
Echoes fade and memories die;
Autumn frosts have slain July.

Still she haunts me, phantomwise,
Alice moving under skies
Never seen by waking eyes.

Children yet, the tale to hear,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Lovingly shall nestle near.

In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die;

Ever drifting down the stream
Lingering in the golden gleam
Life, what is it but a dream?

A Dreaming Week – Carol Ann Duffy

Not tonight, I’m dreaming
in the heart of the honeyed dark
in a boat of a bed in the attic room
in a house on the edge of the park
where the wind in the big old trees
creaks like an ark.

Not tomorrow, I’m dreaming
till dusk turns to dawn – dust, must,
most, moot, moon, mown, down –
with my hand over an open unread book,
a bird that’s never flown . . . distantly
the birdsong of a telephone.

Not the following evening, I’m dreaming
in the monocle of the moon,
a sleeping S on the page of a bed
in the tome of a dim room, the rain
on the roof, rhyming there,
like the typed words of a poem.

Not the night after that, I’m dreaming
till the stars are blue in the face
printing the news of their old light
with the ink of space,
yards and yards of black silk night
to cover my sleeping face.

Not the next evening, I’m dreaming
in the crook of midnight’s arm
like a lover held by another
safe from harm, like a child
stilled by a mother, soft and warm,
twelve golden faraway bells for a charm.

Not that night either, I’m dreaming
till the tides have come and gone
sighing over the frowning sand,
the whale’s lonely song
scored on wave after wave of water
all the wet night long.

Not the last evening, I’m dreaming
under the stuttering clock,
under the covers, under closed eyes,
all colours fading to black,
the last of daylight hurrying
for a date with the glamorous dark.

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven – William Butler Yeats

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

A Dream within a Dream – Edgar Allan Poe

Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow:
You are not wrong who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand–
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep–while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?

Whan I Sleep I Dream – Robert Burns

Whan I sleep I dream,
Whan I wauk I’m eerie,
Sleep I canna get,
For thinkin’ o’ my dearie.

Lanely night comes on,
A’ the house are sleeping,
I think on the bonnie lad
That has my heart a keeping.
Ay waukin O, waukin ay and wearie,
Sleep I canna get, for thinkin’ o’ my dearie.

Lanely nights come on,
A’ the house are sleeping,
I think on my bonnie lad,
An’ I blear my een wi’ greetin’!
Ay waukin, &c.

The Dream – John Donne 

Dear love, for nothing less than thee
Would I have broke this happy dream;
It was a theme
For reason, much too strong for fantasy,
Therefore thou wak’d’st me wisely; yet
My dream thou brok’st not, but continued’st it.
Thou art so true that thoughts of thee suffice
To make dreams truths, and fables histories;
Enter these arms, for since thou thought’st it best,
Not to dream all my dream, let’s act the rest.

As lightning, or a taper’s light,
Thine eyes, and not thy noise wak’d me;
Yet I thought thee
(For thou lovest truth) an angel, at first sight;
But when I saw thou sawest my heart,
And knew’st my thoughts, beyond an angel’s art,
When thou knew’st what I dreamt, when thou knew’st when
Excess of joy would wake me, and cam’st then,
I must confess, it could not choose but be
Profane, to think thee any thing but thee.

Coming and staying show’d thee, thee,
But rising makes me doubt, that now
Thou art not thou.
That love is weak where fear’s as strong as he;
‘Tis not all spirit, pure and brave,
If mixture it of fear, shame, honour have;
Perchance as torches, which must ready be,
Men light and put out, so thou deal’st with me;
Thou cam’st to kindle, goest to come; then I
Will dream that hope again, but else would die.

Come Sleep, O Sleep! The Certain Knot Of Peace – Sir Philip Sidney

Come, Sleep! O Sleep, the certain knot of peace,
The baiting-place of wit, the balm of woe,
The poor man’s wealth, the prisoner’s release,
Th’ indifferent judge between the high and low;
With shield of proof shield me from out the press
Of those fierce darts Despair at me doth throw!
O make in me those civil wars to cease!—
I will good tribute pay if thou do so.
Take thou of me smooth pillows, sweetest bed,
A chamber deaf of noise and blind of light,

A rosy garland, and a weary head;
And if these things, as being thine in right,
Move not thy heavy grace, thou shalt in me,
Livelier than elsewhere, Stella’s image see.

Lullaby – W. H. Auden 

Lay your sleeping head, my love,
Human on my faithless arm;
Time and fevers burn away
Individual beauty from
Thoughtful children, and the grave
Proves the child ephemeral:
But in my arms till break of day
Let the living creature lie,
Mortal, guilty, but to me
The entirely beautiful.

Soul and body have no bounds:
To lovers as they lie upon
Her tolerant enchanted slope
In their ordinary swoon,
Grave the vision Venus sends
Of supernatural sympathy,
Universal love and hope;
While an abstract insight wakes
Among the glaciers and the rocks
The hermit’s carnal ecstasy.

Certainty, fidelity
On the stroke of midnight pass
Like vibrations of a bell,
And fashionable madmen raise
Their pedantic boring cry:
Every farthing of the cost,
All the dreaded cards foretell,
Shall be paid, but from this night
Not a whisper, not a thought,
Not a kiss nor look be lost.

Beauty, midnight, vision dies:
Let the winds of dawn that blow
Softly round your dreaming head
Such a day of welcome show
Eye and knocking heart may bless,
Find the mortal world enough;
Noons of dryness find you fed
By the involuntary powers,
Nights of insult let you pass
Watched by every human love.

Did we miss any of your favourite poems about sleep? Let us know! In the meantime, why not check out our current special offers?

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