Sidney Lanier

(1842-1881 / Macon / Georgia)

Baby Charley. - Poem by Sidney Lanier

He's fast asleep. See how, O Wife,
Night's finger on the lip of life
Bids whist the tongue, so prattle-rife,
Of busy Baby Charley.

One arm stretched backward round his head,
Five little toes from out the bed
Just showing, like five rosebuds red,
-- So slumbers Baby Charley.

Heaven-lights, I know, are beaming through
Those lucent eyelids, veined with blue,
That shut away from mortal view
Large eyes of Baby Charley.

O sweet Sleep-Angel, throned now
On the round glory of his brow,
Wave thy wing and waft my vow
Breathed over Baby Charley.

I vow that my heart, when death is nigh,
Shall never shiver with a sigh
For act of hand or tongue or eye
That wronged my Baby Charley!


Comments about Baby Charley. by Sidney Lanier

  • Gold Star - 13,486 Points Terry Craddock (4/28/2015 10:11:00 PM)

    'Baby Charley by Sidney Lanier seems to be a brave attempt by the narrator to cheer up his wife, by implying that Baby Charley is asleep and not dead, with references in the first and second stanzas to Baby Charley's cute lifelike poses. The beauty of Baby Charley is intensified with

    Heaven-lights, I know, are beaming through
    Those lucent eyelids, veined with blue,
    That shut away from mortal view
    Large eyes of Baby Charley.

    Further comfort is purchased with another beautiful heavenly reference 'O sweet Sleep-Angel, throned now
    On the round glory of his brow', but pain creeps into the final stanza of the poem with recognition of loss, and the noble declaration

    I vow that my heart, when death is nigh,
    Shall never shiver with a sigh
    For act of hand or tongue or eye
    That wronged my Baby Charley!

    Interesting that the last two lines add a mystery concerning Baby Charley's death. Was the death caused by a deliberate 'act of hand' or an evil tongue or eye, implying a superstitious belief in an age when the evil eye was considered to possess the power to harm. A well written poem but not a topic I have had the misfortune to write upon. (Report) Reply

    2 person liked.
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  • Rookie - 406 Points Richard Blay (4/28/2015 6:10:00 PM)

    Such tender love and wish. Nice poem. I love this piece, how the baby is painted with words (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 0 Points Intisar Ali (4/28/2015 1:50:00 PM)

    i like the way it says oh sweet child joy (Report) Reply

  • Silver Star - 4,494 Points John Richter (4/28/2015 6:11:00 AM)

    Oh the joy of new parenthood! Savor it friends. Soon baby Charley will be walking in the door with a rainbow Mohawk and metal piercings everywhere saying how much he hates you..... Ah, the joy of parenting.... (Report) Reply

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Read poems about / on: baby, angel, red, sleep, heaven, death, night, heart, life



Poem Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002



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