A Lullaby

This poem first appears in print in the 1864 collection The Collier Lad, and was subsequently included in all the other collections except that of 1878. In the published volumes of his work, Skipsey subtitles this poem: "suggested by an old verse".  The verse in question, usually referred to as "Golden Slumbers" was written by the Elizabethan dramatist and pamphleteer Thomas Dekker (c1572 - 1632) and is included in his play Patient Grissel (1599), a variant of the medieval tale of Patient Griselda, which is also one of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.  We do not know exactly how Skipsey came across the poem, but he was certainly interested in the writing of the Shakespearean and Elizabethan period. 

Through the dark and dreary night
Golden slumbers kiss thine eyes
Sleep, and in the early light
With a golden smile arise!

Sleep, my baby, do not cry
Lulla, lulla, lullaby.

The round red moon is sinking low
They say tonight there’ll be a storm
Well, the moon may sink and the wind may blow
But I’ll protect you from all harm.

Sleep, my baby, do not cry
Lulla, lulla, lullaby.

Trouble art thou?  Baby, nay
You’re the brightest star in all my sky
You have turned my night to day
You’re my dear jewel, don’t you cry.

Sleep, my baby, do not cry
Lulla, lulla, lullaby.

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