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This sonnet, by Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586), is part of a long sequence of poems titled Astrophel and Stella, which tracks the development of a love affair between the narrator, Astrophel, and the virtuous, intelligent, idealized Stella. Stella had a real-life counterpart who Sidney loved, yet eventually saw marry another man.
The thirty-ninth sonnet is Come sleep. Oh sleep, the certain knot of peace in which the narrator personifies Sleep. He prays that Sleep will come and release him from his current state of misery – only through sleep will he be able to be free from the war raging between his head and his heart, between reason and love. All he seeks is '…smooth pillows, a sweetest bed, a chamber deaf of noise and blind of light'. He rationalizes that he can entice Sleep by promising that the image of Stella will appear in his dreams, and Sleep will be able to watch. This would be the greatest tribute he could pay. The narrator prefers Stella to appear in his dreams, because he then need not face the reality that she is not his own.
Commissioned by Euphony, Kristin School, Auckland and conductor David Squire
Suitable for school and community choirs
Text by Sir Philip Sidney