Text: Edgar Allan Poe, “The Sleeper” (Text-08b), Saturday Museum (Philadelphia), March 4, 1843, p. 1, col. 7


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­[page 1, column 7, continued:]

THE SLEEPER.

At midnight, in the month of June,

I stand beneath the mystic moon.

An opiate vapor, dewy, dim,

Exhales from out her golden rim,

And, softly dripping, drop by drop,

Upon the quiet mountain top,

Steals drowsily and musically

Into the universal valley.

The rosemary nods upon the grave;

The lily lolls upon the wave;

Wrapping the fog about its breast,

The ruin moulders into rest;

Looking like Lethé, see! the lake

A conscious slumber seems to take,

And would not, for the world, awake.

All Beauty sleeps! — and lo! where lies

(Her casement open to the skies)

Irené with her Destinies!

O, lady bright!

Can it be right —

This lattice open to the night?

The bodiless airs, a wizard rout,

Flit through thy chamber in and out,

And wave the curtain canopy

So fitfully — so fearfully —

Above the clos’d and fringéd lid

’Neath which thy slumb’ring soul lies hid,

That, o’er the floor and down the wall,

Like ghosts the shadows rise and fall!

 

O, lady dear,

Hast thou no fear?

Why and what art thou dreaming here?

Sure thou art come o’er far-off seas

A wonder to these garden trees!

Strange is thy pallor! strange thy dress!

Strange above all, thy length of tress,

And this all solemn silentness!

 

The lady sleeps. O, may her sleep,

Which is enduring, so be deep!

Heaven have her in its sacred keep!

This chamber chang’d for one more holy,

This bed for one more melancholy,

I pray to God that she may lie

Forever with unopen’d eye,

While the dim sheeted ghosts go by!

 

My love, she sleeps. Oh, may her sleep,

As it is lasting, so be deep!

Soft may the worms about her creep!

Far in the forest, dim and old,

For her may some tall vault unfold —

Some vault that oft hath flung its black

And wingéd pannels fluttering back,

Triumphant, o’er the crested palls

Of her grand family funerals —

Some sepulchre, remote, alone,

Against whose portal she hath thrown,

In childhood, many an idle stone —

Some tomb from out whose sounding door

She ne’er shall force an echo more,

Thrilling to think, poor child of sin!

It was the dead who groaned within.


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Notes:

This poem is quoted as part of a biographical article on Poe. (The present version of the poem is identical with the February 25, 1843 text, with only one variation in where stanzas break.)

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[S:1 - PSM, 1843 (photocopy)] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Poems - The Sleeper (Text-08b)