This setting of the poem TO SLEEP by John Keats is one of several I made in the late 1980s--early 90s when I was reading a lot of the English romantics.
As a sonnet, it was difficult to work into song form since the lines do not read like lyrics. When setting already established poems to music, as I frequently do,
it can be quite challenging to "wed" the music to the words in a way that sounds natural. I remember having one hell of a time putting this piece together.
Joseph Severn drew this portrait moments after death took the great poet aged 25.
SLEEP, Copyrightę1990 DamonMusic by Sean Damon Rohde. All rights reserved
O soft embalmer of the still midnight,
Shutting, with careful fingers and benign,
Our gloom-pleas'd eyes, embower'd from the light,
Enshaded in forgetfulness divine:
O soothest Sleep! if so it please thee, close
In midst of this thine hymn my willing eyes,
Or wait the "Amen," ere thy poppy throws
Around my bed its lulling charities.
Then save me, or the passed day will shine
Upon my pillow, breeding many woes,
Save me from curious Conscience, that still lords
Its strength for darkness, burrowing like a mole;
Turn the key deftly in the oiled wards,
And seal the hushed Casket of my Soul.