Study Guide

Come Sleep! Oh Sleep Suffering

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Despair is sitting there tossing darts at the speaker of "Come Sleep! O Sleep," and civil wars are raging inside of him. This isn't sadness. This is downright suffering. The speaker's metaphors for his emotional struggles and feelings of despair are violent (darts and war, hello), which makes us think of him as an unfortunate victim, not just your average emo-dude. The speaker begs for Sleep to come because he wants all these things to go away; heck, we get the impression in the poem's first lines that Sleep is the answer to all of life's sufferings (poverty, imprisonment, fatigue, hangnails, etc.).

Questions About Suffering

  1. Does the speaker have any real reason to complain? If so, where do you see that in the poem? If not, why write this poem?
  2. What is the effect of the speaker's metaphors for his suffering (darts, civil wars)?
  3. Does the image of Stella mentioned in the last line affect the speaker's suffering at all?
  4. Do you think sleep will end the speaker's suffering, or just temporarily distract from it? Why do you think so?

Chew on This

While sleep is sometimes a cure for suffering, it is also sometimes just a temporary escape. The speaker will eventually, you know, wake up.

Thinking about something positive, like sleep (or ice cream—mm), can ease one's pain, at least a little bit. Note, for example, how much less depressing the second half of the poem is.

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