Lioness Asleep

By Babette Deutsch 1895–1982 Babette Deutsch
Content that now the bleeding bone be swept
Out of her reach, she lay upon her side.
In a blonde void sunk deep, she slept, she slept
Bland as a child, slept, breathing like a bride.
Color of noons that shimmer as they sing
Above the dunes, her sandy flanks heaved slow.
Between her paws curled inward, billowing
Waves of desert silence seemed to flow.

The crowd was gone, the bars were gone, the cage
Thinned into air, the sawdust and the fleas
Winnowed by sleep to nothing. After food,
Absence possessed her: bliss keener than rage,
If slumber’s prisoner at a bound could seize
This ghostly freedom, lapping it like blood.

Babette Deutsch, “Lioness Asleep” from The Collected Poems of Babette Deutsch (New York: Doubleday, 1969). Reprinted with the permission of Michael Yarmolinsky.

Source: The Collected Poems (Random House Inc., 1969)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Babette Deutsch 1895–1982

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Animals, Nature

Poetic Terms Sonnet

 Babette  Deutsch


Poet, novelist, editor, and critic Babette Deutsch was born and lived much of her life in New York City. She began to publish poems in journals such as the New Republic while a student at Barnard College, where she earned a BA. Two years after her graduation, she published her first poetry collection, Banners (1919).
Aligned with the Imagist movement, Deutsch typically composed compact, lyrical pieces using crisp visual . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Animals, Nature

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Sonnet

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.