The City of Sleep

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The City of Sleep  (1898) 
by Rudyard Kipling
First published in The Day's Work (1898), accompanying the story The Brushwood Boy.


Over the edge of the purple down,
    Where the single lamplight gleams,
Know ye the road to the Merciful Town
    That is hard by the Sea of Dreams—
Where the poor may lay their wrongs away,
    And the sick may forget to weep?
But we—pity us! Oh, pity us!
    We wakeful; ah, pity us!—
We must go back with Policeman Day—
    Back from the City of Sleep!

Weary they turn from the scroll and crown,
    Fetter and prayer and plough—
They that go up to the Merciful Town,
    For her gates are closing now.
It is their right in the Baths of Night
    Body and soul to steep,
But we—pity us! ah, pity us!
    We wakeful; oh, pity us!—
We must go back with Policeman Day—
    Back from the City of Sleep!

Over the edge of the purple down,
    Ere the tender dreams begin,
Look—we may look—at the Merciful Town,
    But we may not enter in!
Outcasts all, from her guarded wall
    Back to our watch we creep:
We—pity us! ah, pity us!
    We wakeful; oh, pity us!—
We that go back with Policeman Day—
    Back from the City of Sleep!


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923.

The author died in 1936, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 75 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.