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Somnus (1947)


Somnus, the humble god that dwells
In cottages and smoky cells,
Hates gilded roofs and beds of down;
And, though he fears no prince’s frown,
Flies from his circle of a crown.
Come, I say, thou powerful god,
And thy leaden charming rod,
Dipped in the Lethean lake,
O’er his wakeful temples shake,
Lest he should sleep and never wake.
Nature, alas, why art thou so
Obliged to thy greatest foe?
Sleep, that is thy best repast,
Yet of death it bears the taste,
And both are the same thing at last.
‘Song for Prince Mirza’ from Act V of The Sophy (1641)

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Edward Benjamin Britten, Baron Britten (22 November 1913 – 4 December 1976) was an English composer, conductor and pianist. He was a central figure of 20th-century British classical music, with a range of works including opera, other vocal music, orchestral and chamber pieces. His best-known works include the opera Peter Grimes (1945), the War Requiem (1962) and the orchestral showpiece The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra (1945).

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Sir John Denham was an Anglo-Irish poet and courtier.

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