Pablius Papinius Statius

(45 - 96 / Latin)

Ode To Sleep


Gentle divinity, how have I merited?
Whither, unfortunate wretch, have I strayed,
Thus of thy bounty to lie disenherited -
I alone whilst every other is paid?
Sleeping are cattle and birds without number,
Beasts of the wilderness rest in their lair;
Even the hills, as if weary, feign slumber,
Even the torment sighs soft in the air.

Lulled are the shuttering waves of the ocean,
Seas in the lap of the land lie at peace.
Only for me in monotonous motion
Day follows day, and there comes no release.

Moonlight & starlight & light of the morning
Seven times flit o'er my feverish cheek.
Once again Dawn's chilly hand offers warning.
Whither, oh whither for rest shall I seek?

Had I the eyes of an Argus, nor heeded
Ever to keep my whole body awake -
Half of the sentries alone being needed -
Still I could never my slumber-thirst slake.

Yet - if there's one in the arms of a lover
Scornful of sleep and the joy that sleep brings,
Come thou to me! I'll not ask thee to cover
My eyes with the fullest extant of thy wings

Happier suitors may sue for such blessing,
I'll beg a touch, be it ever so slight,
Of thy wand, or a whisk of thy garment caressing
My eyelids to droop as it crosses the night.

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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