Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed,
The dear repose for limbs with travel tired;
But then begins a journey in my head,
To work my mind, when body's work's expired:
For then my thoughts (from far where I abide)
Intend a zealous pilgrimage to thee,
And keep my drooping eyelids open wide,
Looking on darkness which the blind do see:
Save that my soul's imaginary sight
Presents thy shadow to my sightless view,
Which, like a jewel hung in ghastly night,
Makes black night beauteous and her old face new.
Lo, thus, by day my limbs, by night my mind,
For thee, and for myself, no quiet find.
XXVII. The poet is at a distance from his friend on a journey; and when his body rests at night, then begins a mental pilgrimage to his friend, which keeps his eyes from sleep. The night, however, acquires a new beauty, when he sees his friend's image in the darkness.
4. To work my mind. To set my mind at work; or, my mind begins to work.
6. Intend. Direct onwards.
7. My drooping eyelids. My eyelids, which otherwise would fain close in
8. Which the blind do see. Equally with those whose eyesight is not
10. Thy. Q. gives "their" instead of "thy," probably from a misunderstood abbreviation. Shadow. Image, as elsewhere.
Shakespeare and Sleep ... "Those who have lingered over the quieter scenes of Shakespeare must have been often aware of still another aspect of life which drew from him some of his wooingest and most lovable touches -- I mean his references to, and his portrayals of, sleep. Two qualities of this phase of our natural being seem to have especially impressed Shakespeare -- its pathos and its mystery. Both tones are congenial to the subdued movement of his scenes of suspense and preparation, and it is seldom that either is quite absent when sleep is thought of." J. F. Pyre. Read on...