Advancing in Poetry Advancing in Poetry    

Lesson 28: To Sleep

by John Keats

Performer: Librivox - Alan Davis Drake

O soft embalmer of the still midnight,

Shutting, with careful fingers and benign,

Our gloom-pleas'd eyes, embower'd from the light,

Enshaded in forgetfulness divine:

O soothest Sleep! if so it please thee, close

In midst of this thine hymn my willing eyes,

Or wait the "Amen," ere thy poppy throws

Around my bed its lulling charities.

Then save me, or the passed day will shine

Upon my pillow, breeding many woes,—

Save me from curious Conscience, that still lords

Its strength for darkness, burrowing like a mole;

Turn the key deftly in the oiled wards,

And seal the hushed Casket of my Soul.

    Advancing in Poetry Advancing in Poetry    

Lesson 28: To Sleep

by John Keats

Performer: Librivox - Alan Davis Drake


Study the poem for one week.

Over the week:

  • Read or listen to the poem.
  • Review the synopsis.
  • Read about the poet.
  • Complete the enrichment activities.


John Keats' poem, 'To Sleep,' personifies sleep as being who uses its fingers to close our eyes and turn the key to lock our woes within our souls.


  1. John Keats was born in 1795 in London, England.
  2. Zoom in and find Keats' city and country of birth, London, England, on the map of Europe.
  3. Keats was the son of a stableman. His father cared for horses at an in and later managed the inn.
  4. Keats attended boarding school starting when he was 7 years old.
  5. By the time Keats was 16, he had lost both of his parents, his father falling from a horse and his mother dying of tuberculosis.
  6. Keats trained to be a doctor and received his apothecary's license, but he abandoned medicine for poetry.
  7. Keats contracted tuberculosis. On the advice of his doctors, he traveled to Rome, Italy. Despite the favorable weather, he died in Italy at the age of 25.
  8. Keats' poetry only became popular after his death.
  9. Find Keats' city and country of death, Rome, Italy, on the map of Europe.


Activity 1: Recite Poem Information

Recite the title of the poem and the name of the poet.

Activity 2: Study the Poem Picture

Study the poem picture and describe how it relates to the poem.

Activity 3: Recite the Poem

Practice reciting the poem aloud.

Activity 4: Complete Book Activities   

  • Click the crayon above, and complete pages 177-182 of 'Elementary Poetry 4: Advancing in Poetry.'


  1. 'John Keats.' Wikipedia. n.p.