The City of Sleep

By Rudyard Kipling 1865–1936 Rudyard Kipling
Over the edge of the purple down,
   Where the single lamplight gleams,
Know ye the road to the Merciful Town
   That is hard by the Sea of Dreams –
Where the poor may lay their wrongs away,
   And the sick may forget to weep?
But we – pity us! Oh, pity us!
   We wakeful; ah, pity us! –
We must go back with Policeman Day –
   Back from the City of Sleep!
 
Weary they turn from the scroll and crown,
   Fetter and prayer and plough –
They that go up to the Merciful Town,
   For her gates are closing now.
It is their right in the Baths of Night
   Body and soul to steep,
But we – pity us! ah, pity us!
   We wakeful; oh, pity us! –
We must go back with Policeman Day –
   Back from the City of Sleep!
 
Over the edge of the purple down,
   Ere the tender dreams begin,
Look – we may look – at the Merciful Town,
   But we may not enter in!
Outcasts all, from her guarded wall
   Back to our watch we creep:
We – pity us! ah, pity us!
   We wakeful; ah, pity us! –
We that go back with Policeman Day –
   Back from the City of Sleep!

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Poet Rudyard Kipling 1865–1936

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Subjects Living, Disappointment & Failure, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Metaphor, Refrain, Rhymed Stanza

 Rudyard  Kipling

Biography

Rudyard Kipling is one of the best-known of the late Victorian poets and story-tellers. Although he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1907, his unpopular political views caused his work to be neglected shortly after his death. Critics, however, recognize the power of his work. "His unrelenting craftsmanship, his determination to be 'master of the bricks and mortar of his trade,' compels respect, and his genius as a . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Disappointment & Failure, Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Poetic Terms Metaphor, Refrain, Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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