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  • Writer's pictureedwardianjackal

Lullaby (1603) ~ Thomas Dekker

Golden slumbers kiss your eyes,

Smiles awake you when you rise;

Sleep, pretty wantons, do not cry,

And I will sing a lullaby:

Rocke them, rock them, lullaby.

Care is heavy, therefore sleep you;

You are care, and care must keep you;

Sleep, pretty wantons, do not cry,

And I will sing a lullaby:

Rock them, rock them, lullaby.


In 1953's England in Literature (Scott, Foresman and Company, page 69) there is a section on Elizabethan Songs, a prelude to chapters on Shakespeare that follow.

Of these, Lullaby, by Dekker is a bit of a revelation - although I do remember this association as a child. It is the basis, at least lyrically, for Golden Slumbers of the Beatles (sung by Paul McCartney). Apparently, he saw the sheet music left upon the piano, and, not knowing how to read music, created his own music and variating the lyrics to follow suit. It is interesting that Dekker received no credit on the liner notes for it. As you can read above, it is a definitive borrow.

Lullabies are infinitely delightful. The simplicity in form, easiness of the melody - it is how we note it as comforting.


We shall on alighted wisps rise

On moon-lit steps

And chilled, night airs

With eyes softened fell

On thickening shadows

The sun's no more warmth

An echo of blurred glow

My breath thickens and

My body motionless

Sleep we must, it is that appointed time

To spill into slumber without caution

I hope to rest , I hope to dream

Oblivious to it all.

- August 2022



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