Cradle Songs

A poem by Algernon Charles Swinburne

(To a tune of Blake’s)
Baby, baby bright,
Sleep can steal from sight
Little of your light:
Soft as fire in dew,
Still the life in you
Lights your slumber through.
Four white eyelids keep
Fast the seal of sleep
Deep as love is deep:
Yet, though closed it lies,
Love behind them spies
Heaven in two blue eyes.

Baby, baby dear,
Earth and heaven are near
Now, for heaven is here.
Heaven is every place
Where your flower-sweet face
Fills our eyes with grace.
Till your own eyes deign
Earth a glance again,
Earth and heaven are twain.
Now your sleep is done,
Shine, and show the sun
Earth and heaven are one.

Baby, baby sweet,
Love’s own lips are meet
Scarce to kiss your feet.
Hardly love’s own ear,
When your laugh crows clear,
Quite deserves to hear.
Hardly love’s own wile,
Though it please awhile,
Quite deserves your smile.
Baby full of grace,
Bless us yet a space:
Sleep will come apace.

Baby, baby true,
Man, whate’er he do,
May deceive not you.
Smiles whose love is guile,
Worn a flattering while,
Win from you no smile.
One, the smile alone
Out of love’s heart grown,
Ever wins your own.
Man, a dunce uncouth,
Errs in age and youth:
Babies know the truth.

Baby, baby fair,
Love is fain to dare
Bless your haughtiest air.
Baby blithe and bland,
Reach but forth a hand
None may dare withstand;
Love, though wellnigh cowed,
Yet would praise aloud
Pride so sweetly proud.
No! the fitting word
Even from breeze or bird
Never yet was heard.

Baby, baby kind,
Though no word we find,
Bear us yet in mind.
Half a little hour,
Baby bright in bower,
Keep this thought aflower
Love it is, I see,
Here with heart and knee
Bows and worships me.
What can baby do,
Then, for love so true?
Let it worship you.

Baby, baby wise,
Love’s divine surmise
Lights your constant eyes.
Day and night and day
One mute word would they,
As the soul saith, say.
Trouble comes and goes;
Wonder ebbs and flows;
Love remains and glows.
As the fledgeling dove
Feels the breast above,
So your heart feels love.

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