‘The Sleep’ by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

Have you ever appreciated your ability to sleep? Now, you will wonder if being able to sleep is something to be praised. Yes, give yourself an applause for you have been given the best gift ever and you will have to cherish this gift. The poem ‘The Sleep’ by Elizabeth Barrett Browning brings out the importance of sleep and why it is to be cherished.

Of everything we have known about God from psalms and hymns, the poet asks if there is any gift which surpasses His gift – the sleep. As humans, what can we give to our loved ones? We can give the hero’s courage and determined heart to confront all the troubles; we can give them a poet’s lyrical verse to move them to ecstasy; we can give them a patriot’s voice to guide them through hurdles and motivate them; we can give them a ruler’s consolation to ease their burdens. But of everything we can give them, there is nothing that will surpass God’s gift to His beloved – the Sleep. 

“He giveth His beloved, sleep”

Sometimes we give our beloved words of consolation and sometimes we add to their difficulties, making their whole world burdened. But God’s gift – Sleep – puts an end to all such sufferings. No matter what words of consolation we say, we can’t solve the problems of our beloved. When things get hard and we have no words of consolation, all we can say to our beloved is to sleep.

“ ‘Sleep soft, beloved!’ we sometimes say,”

We say so, hoping that no bitter memories of hardships shall disturb their ‘happy slumber’. When we sleep, we forget our bad experiences and experience eternal peace. So, this peace gives us hope and when we wake up the next morning, we are prepared for the day. Now is there any gift which surpasses sleep?

Our earth is full of dreary noises and wailing voices of despair. We chase after money, wealth and other material prospects which might leave us anytime. So, God silences these wailings by putting everyone to sleep. God has created this earth and all natural elements and we humans sow and reap. Thus, Sleep is more delicate than the dew drops and clouds. It makes us feel as if we are on a delightful journey and makes us feel lighter.

We go on living, thinking, and feeling without even realizing what keeps us going everyday. It is the sleep which keeps us going everyday. When we sleep, we forget the hardships of today, and hope for a better tomorrow.

“Aye, men may wonder while they scan  

A living, thinking, feeling man  

Confirmed in such a rest to keep;”

Our world is a stage and we are like a tired child watching the performance of the mummers on the stage. So when our eyelids droop, we rest like a child on God’s lap. So, no matter how exhausted we are, it is the sleep which rejuvenates us at the end of the day.

The last stanza ends with the poet asking her friends not to mourn or weep when she dies, for she is just going to an eternal sleep and a state of peace after all. 

“Let One, most loving of you all,  

Say, ‘Not a tear must o’er her fall;  

He giveth His beloved, sleep.’“

The poem makes us understand how blessed we are to be able to sleep. We should no longer take our sleep for granted. Sleep improves both our mental and physical health. So, sleeping is the best thing ever. Finally, think if there is a greater gift than sleep.

“He giveth His beloved, sleep.”

Read the poem at https://poets.org/poem/sleep