Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I've had some insomnia lately. I always do when I'm pregnant. Antihistamines usually take care of it, and Dramamine has the added advantage of helping with the nausea. All of which is a roundabout way of explaining why I love Shakespeare. (Really.) I had occasion to look up the phrase "heavy is the head that wears the crown," and came upon this passage from Henry IV Part II:

How many thousand of my poorest subjects
Are at this hour asleep! O sleep, O gentle sleep,
Nature's soft nurse, how have I frighted thee,
That thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down
And steep my senses in forgetfulness?
Why rather, sleep, liest thou in smoky cribs,
Upon uneasy pallets stretching thee
And hush'd with buzzing night-flies to thy slumber,
Than in the perfumed chambers of the great,
Under the canopies of costly state,
And lull'd with sound of sweetest melody?
O thou dull god, why liest thou with the vile
In loathsome beds, and leavest the kingly couch
A watch-case or a common 'larum-bell?
Wilt thou upon the high and giddy mast
Seal up the ship-boy's eyes, and rock his brains
In cradle of the rude imperious surge
And in the visitation of the winds,
Who take the ruffian billows by the top,
Curling their monstrous heads and hanging them
With deafening clamour in the slippery clouds,
That, with the hurly, death itself awakes?
Canst thou, O partial sleep, give thy repose
To the wet sea-boy in an hour so rude,
And in the calmest and most stillest night,
With all appliances and means to boot,
Deny it to a king? Then happy low, lie down!
Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.

I love the imagery, especially the personification of sleep. When you're lying awake at 3:00 in the morning, it really does start to feel like sleep is a thing that you've somehow offended or frightened away. You try all kinds of tricks to lure it back, but nothing works. And of course, in my case, the part of the ship-boy is played by Glen, who takes about 0.68 seconds to fall asleep every night, and can easily sleep through the deafening clamour of a thunderstorm that would wake death itself.


prism said...

First off, congrats on the pregnancy!

And, thank you for including that little bit of Shakespeare. I have always liked him, too. But, I really needed that little bit of recharge that well-written words bring. I sometimes forget to look there for that. I need to start doing that more - reading things other than gardening, art and how-to books. :-)

Heidi said...

OK, way to make that announcement on blogger... !

Octavia said...

@heidi: actually, my Facebook status last week said "gestating." :) And how else should I announce it? I usually do send birth announcements, but a pregnancy announcement? It seems premature ... so to speak.

Heidi said...

lol. I missed that status update... NO, actually, I didn't - I thought it just meant you were ruminating over your thesis! See how grad school can take over your life? :)

Octavia said...

Yeah, this would be more of a literal gestation, as opposed to a metaphorical one which results in graduation.