Poet: Thomas Warton
Dates: 9 January 1728 – 21 May 1790
Title of Poem: Ode to Sleep
On this my pensive pillow, gentle Sleep!
Descend, in all thy downy plumage drest:
Wipe with thy wing these eyes that wake to weep,
And place thy crown of poppies on my breast.
O steep my senses in oblivion’s balm,
And sooth my throbbing pulse with lenient hand;
This tempest of my boiling blood becalm!
Despair grows mild at thy supreme command.
Yet ah! in vain, familiar with the gloom,
And sadly toiling through the tedious night,
I seek sweet slumber, while that virgin bloom,
For ever hovering, haunts my wretched sight.
Nor would the dawning day my sorrows charm:
Black midnight and the blaze of noon alike
To me appear, while with uplifted arm
Death stands prepar’d, but still delays, to strike.
Brief Biography: At the age of just 17 Warton wrote his most famous poem The Pleasures of Melancholy. He was Poet Laureate of Oxford and then of England as well as Professor of Poetry at Oxford University. Warton preferred to write light verse, odes and sonnets and his sonnets helped a revival of the form as it had fallen out of fashion.