Elizabeth Chase Akers Allen (1832-1911) was an American author and poet whose 1859 poem, ‘Rock Me to Sleep, Mother’ (the ‘mother’ word is sometimes omitted) is still relatively well-known, thanks to the opening lines: ‘Backward, turn backward, O time, in thy flight; / Make me a child again, just for to-night.’ Here is the poem in full:
Rock Me to Sleep
Backward, turn backward, O Time, in your flight,
Make me a child again just for tonight!
Mother, come back from the echoless shore,
Take me again to your heart as of yore;
Kiss from my forehead the furrows of care,
Smooth the few silver threads out of my hair;
Over my slumbers your loving watch keep;—
Rock me to sleep, mother, – rock me to sleep!
Backward, flow backward, O tide of the years!
I am so weary of toil and of tears,—
Toil without recompense, tears all in vain,— Read the rest of this entry
In this week’s Dispatches from The Secret Library, Dr Oliver Tearle reads Dr Johnson’s witty and penetrating critical biographies of the great and good
By 1779, Samuel Johnson had attained that title by which he would become familiarly known: ‘Dr Johnson’. He wasn’t ‘doctored’ when he completed his most defining work (‘defining’ in every sense), the Dictionary of the English Language, in 1755. But when he came to write his Lives of the Poets, just five years before his death, he had become the era’s most celebrated man of letters, with an annual pension from the state to honour his services to scholarship and literature, and a reputation – and, indeed, a celebrity status – that continues to dwarf that of all other eighteenth-century writers. Who can picture Henry Fielding, or envisage Samuel Richardson? But Johnson, with his one-line pronouncements on everything from London to literature, death to dictionaries, remains remarkably alive to us. Read the rest of this entry