To Sleep Poem Summary, Notes and Line by Line Explanation in English Class 11th


In this poem, the poet talks about sleep. He has not been able to sleep for a few days and wishes for sleep to come to him soon. Sleep allows him to enjoy the morning and have fresh thoughts, and he dearly wishes that it would come to him soon.

About the Poet

William Wordsworth (1770 – 1850) was a major English Romantic poet, Wordsworth possessed a deep love for nature, a theme reflected in many of his poems. He considered nature to be his friend, philosopher and guide. He became the Poet Laureate in 1843, and remained so, until his death in 1850.

Theme of the Poem

The theme of this poem is sleep. The poet dedicates the poem to sleep because it has evaded him recently and wishes for it to come back to him soon.

Stanza 1- 2

A flock of sheep that leisurely pass by
One after one; the sound of rain, and bees
Murmuring; the fall of rivers, winds and seas,
Smooth fields, white sheets of water, and pure sky;

I've thought of all by turns, and still I lie
Sleepless; and soon the small birds' melodies
Must hear, first utter'd from my orchard trees,
And the first cuckoo's melancholy cry. 

The poet thinks of a flock of sheep that leisurely pass by him, one after the other. He tries to imagine the sound of rain and bees murmuring. He also thinks of the fall of rivers, winds, seas, smooth fields, white sheets of water and the pure blue sky. He thinks of all of them by turns but still lies sleepless. And soon it is morning and he hears the small birds’ melodies from the orchard tress first. And then he hears the first cuckoo’s melancholy cry.

Stanza 3- 4

Even thus last night, and two nights more I lay,
And could not win thee, Sleep! by any stealth:
So do not let me wear to-night away:

Without Thee what is all the morning's wealth?
Come, blesséd barrier between day and day,
Dear mother of fresh thoughts and joyous health!

The poet could not sleep the previous night, and two more nights before that he could not win any sleep either. He asks sleep not to steal away from him tonight in any way. He cannot feel the pleasantness of the morning without sleep. He calls sleep the blessed barrier between day and day, and asks it to come to him. Sleep is the dear mother of fresh thoughts and joyous health.