Poesie: Collins’ How Sleep the Brave

William Collins (1721–1759) was a gifted and learned poet, but had to content with unfavorable circumstances and work amid uncongenial surroundings.  Melancholy was his companion, and by the time he died, he was classified as insane.

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This poem is also known as William Collins‘ Ode Written in the Beginning of the Year 1746.  In 1745 and early 1746, the British army suffered defeat in one battle in Belgium and two in Scotland.  How Sleep the Brave

How sleep the brave, who sink to rest
By all their country’s wishes blest!
When Spring, with dewy fingers cold,
Returns to deck their hallow’d mould,
She there shall dress a sweeter sod
Than Fancy’s feet have ever trod.

By fairy hands their knell is rung;
By forms unseen their dirge is sung;
There Honour comes, a pilgrim grey,
To bless the turf that wraps their clay;
And Freedom shall awhile repair
To dwell, a weeping hermit, there!

~ William Collins (1721–1759)

WilliamCollinsPoet
The only known portrait of William Collins

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