The married couple sleep calmly in their bed–he with his palm on the
hip of the wife, and she with her palm on the hip of the
The sisters sleep lovingly side by side in their bed,
The men sleep lovingly side by side in theirs,
And the mother sleeps, with her little child carefully wrapt.
The blind sleep, and the deaf and dumb sleep,
The prisoner sleeps well in the prison–the run-away son sleeps;
The murderer that is to be hung next day–how does he sleep?
And the murder’d person–how does he sleep?
The female that loves unrequited sleeps,
And the male that loves unrequited sleeps, 20
The head of the money-maker that plotted all day sleeps,
And the enraged and treacherous dispositions–all, all sleep.
I stand in the dark with drooping eyes by the worst-suffering and the
I pass my hands soothingly to and fro a few inches from them,
The restless sink in their beds–they fitfully sleep.
Now I pierce the darkness–new beings appear,
The earth recedes from me into the night,
I saw that it was beautiful, and I see that what is not the earth is
I go from bedside to bedside–I sleep close with the other sleepers,
each in turn,
I dream in my dream all the dreams of the other dreamers, 30
And I become the other dreamers.
From The Sleepers, by Walt Whitman