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“Sleep” by Charles Anthony Silvestri

“The evening hangs beneath the moon

A silver thread on darkened dune

With closing eyes and resting head

I know that sleep is coming soon.

 

“Upon my pillow, safe in bed

A thousand pictures fill my head

I cannot sleep, my mind’s a-flight

And yet my limbs seem made of lead.

 

“If there are noises in the night

A frightening shadow, flickering light

Then I surrender unto sleep

Where clouds of dream give second sight.

 

“What dreams may come, both dark and deep

Of flying wings and soaring leap

As I surrender unto sleep,

As I surrender unto sleep.”

…An astonishing poem, even without the background story.

Choral composer Eric Whitacre had set Robert Frost’s poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” to music before seeking permission from the Frost estate. Surprised to find that they would not grant him the privilege (the poem is protected by copyright for a few more years), he sought poet Charles Silvestri’s help. The result is “Sleep,” which you must hear in Whitacre’s setting to get the full impact of the poet’s task.

Too bad, Robert Frost. You lose. We win.

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