Sleeping swimmingly

 

plumbago.JPG
Plumbago creeping through a Perast fence, 16 July

Yesterday I started reading this poem by Samuel Daniel and I’d got about to about line 8, heading towards ‘the night’s untruth’.

Care-charmer Sleep, son of the sable Night,
Brother to Death, in silent darkness born:
Relieve my languish, and restore the light,
With dark forgetting of my cares, return;
And let the day be time enough to mourn
The shipwreck of my ill-adventur’d youth:
Let waking eyes suffice to wail their scorn,
Without the torment of the night’s untruth.
Cease dreams, th’ imagery of our day-desires,
To model forth the passions of the morrow;
Never let rising sun approve you liars,
To add more grief to aggravate my sorrow.
Still let me sleep, embracing clouds in vain;
And never wake to feel the day’s disdain.

Think I had read – let me be blotted out, no more consciousness, I want ‘dark forgetting’ –  and had just got to the point of not understanding ‘the torment of the night’s untruth’… I had read forward and  was beginning to think, perhaps that word, ‘untruth’, looks forward into what is coming next, rather than comes from what has been thought so far… I notice now that the first sentence ends here, at ‘untruth.’  The whole rush of that sentence – let me sleep without consciousness – ends with the hope that his eyes will close. New sentence: ‘cease dreams’.

That’s what he doesn’t want now – dreams which would  lead him towards his lost beloved , whatever, whoever, that is  – ‘the shipwreck of my ill-adventured youth’ . What he does want is  the ‘dark forgetting’, is no thought, no dream, no consciousness.

Cease dreams, th’ imagery of our day-desires,
To model forth the passions of the morrow;

It’s almost as if  Samuel Daniel wants to be in some other mode – or absence – of consciousness. What happens by day – ‘day-desires’ – is not possible, cannot be. Therefore  there is no point in  dreams which ‘model forth the passions of  the morrow’ – there is no morrow,  no reality to model. He doesn’t want to dream, he wants nothing. If he did dream, those dreams would be liars:

Cease dreams, th’ imagery of our day-desires,
To model forth the passions of the morrow;
Never let rising sun approve you liars,
To add more grief to aggravate my sorrow.

If he did dream, the return of day-consciousness would only prove his dreams to be liars and that would make him feel worse, adding ‘more grief to aggravate my sorrow.’ It’s as if things are so bad by day consciousness that he cannot bear the thought of   going out of that sorry state only to have to return.

This makes me remember Wordsworth’s poem ‘Surprised by Joy’ which I’ll maybe read in the coming week.  Meanwhile, Daniel, almost wishing for death? – concludes:

Still let me sleep, embracing clouds in vain;
And never wake to feel the day’s disdain.

He wants the kind of sleep, deep, unconscious, which simply gives you a break from  your conscious  life. I don’t like the ‘never wake’, which seems to take me back to the beginning of the poem where care-charmer sleep was ‘brother to death.’

All the same, it’s a feeling most of us will have recognised at some point: let me  and my bloody consciousness be blotted out. Daniel’s in misery by day and wants only blankness by night, a rest from it.

That’s not the kind of sleep I’m  actually sleeping here on holiday. This sleep is more like sea-swimming: a lovely immersion in a  refreshing element.  Now where’s a poem about that?

 

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