How like a Dream is this I see and hear.
HOW he sleepeth! having drunken
Weary childhood’s mandragore!
From his pretty eyes have sunken
Pleasures to make room for more—
 Sleeping near the withered nosegay, which he pulled the day before.
Nosegays! Leave them for the waking—
Throw them earthwards where they grew!
Dim are they beside the breaking
Amaranths he looks unto!
 Clos'd eyes see brighter colours than the open ever do!
Vapour-white is either eyelid,
Large as through a vapour seem
To him earthly things defiled,
Magnified from sight to dream,—
 Glorified — O earthly sadness, hidden by a heavenly beam!
Vision unto vision calleth
While the young boy dreameth on;
Fair, O dreamer, thee befalleth
With the radiance thou hast won!
 Darker wert thou in the garden, yesternoon, by summer sun.
Shapes of glory overlean thee,
Shapes of beauty, love, and youth!
Who would waken that had seen thee
Sleeping, smiling—not, in sooth,
 Thine own smile—but the over-fair one dropped from some ethereal mouth!
Ask ye, readers, why enringing
Shapes etherial near him stay?
'Tis the child-heart keeps them, singing
In his silent-seeming clay!
 Singing! Stars that seem the mutest in a music go their way.
As he dreams, so we are dreaming
Fain with song and tale to keep
In our leaves the ever-beaming
Forms of art, and mark their sweep.
 Touch the volume kindly, readers! trouble not our ’chanted sleep.
Lovely ladies of our Britain,
Lovely ladies o’er the sea,
By the true loves near you sitting
Or, forsooth, who ought to be,—
 Softly, by the light of smiling, turn the pages on your knee!
Softly, softly! make no noises,
Critical of verse or prose!
They assert our inward voices,
Charming fast the graphic shows—
 While a hope to give you pleasure roundeth all the dream’s repose.
Nathless if the young boy’s mother
(Which is woman’s highest name)
Saw him sleeping—could another,
Though aloud she blessed him, blame?—
 Nor, sweet ladies, should we blame you, though ye blessed US the same.
Text: Finden’s Tableaux for MDCCXL (1840), ed M. R. Mitford, pp. 7-8.
Epigraph: ‘How like a dream is this I see and hear!’, Two Gentlemen of Verona, V.iv.26.