Friday, 6 July 2018

Sleep - Baltasar del Alcázar

Sleep is no servant of the will;
    It has caprices of its own;
    When most pursued, ’tis swiftly gone;
When courted least, it lingers still.
With its vagaries long perplext,
    I turned and turned my restless sconce,
    Till, one fine night, I thought at once
I’d master it. So hear my text.

When sleep doth tarry, I begin
    My long and well-accustomed prayer,
    And in a twinkling sleep is there,
Through my bed-curtains peeping in.
When sleep hangs heavy on my eyes,
    I think of debts I fain would pay,
    And then, as flies night’s shade from day,
Sleep from my heavy eyelids flies.

And, thus controlled, the winged one bends
    E’en his fantastic will to me,
    And, strange yet true, both I and he
Are friends — the very best of friends.
We are a happy wedded pair,
    And I the lord and he the dame;
    Our bed, our board, our dreams the same,
And we’re united everywhere.

I’ll tell you where I learned to school
    This wayward sleep: a whispered word
    From a church-going hag I heard,
And tried it, for I was no fool.
So, from that very hour I knew
    That, having ready prayers to pray,
    And having many debts to pay,
Will serve for sleep, and waking too.

Baltasar del Alcázar (1530 - 1606) Spain
Source: The World’s Wit and Humor, Vol. XIII, Italian — Spanish, The Review of Reviews Company; New York; 1906

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