'A Good Night' by Francis Quarles

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Close now thine eyes and rest secure;
Thy soul is safe enough, thy body sure;
He that loves thee, He that keeps
And guards thee, never slumbers, never sleeps.
The smiling conscience in a sleeping breast
Has only peace, has only rest;
The music and the mirth of kings
Are all but very discords, when she sings;
Then close thine eyes and rest secure;
No sleep so sweet as thine, no rest so sure.

Editor 1 Interpretation

A Good Night: A Literary Criticism and Interpretation

By Francis Quarles

Are you looking for a poem that can transport you to a place of peace and tranquility? Look no further than Francis Quarles' "A Good Night." This classic poem, written in the 17th century, is a beautiful example of metaphysical poetry that still resonates with readers today. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will examine the themes, imagery, and language of this poem to uncover its true meaning and significance.


Before we dive into the poem itself, it's important to understand a little bit about the poet, Francis Quarles. He was born in 1592 in England and was a prolific writer of both poetry and prose. Quarles is best known for his Emblems, a collection of illustrated moral poems that were hugely popular in the 17th century. "A Good Night" was first published in 1644 in his book, Divine Fancies.


At its core, "A Good Night" is a poem about finding peace and rest in the midst of life's trials and tribulations. The speaker of the poem implores the reader to lay down their burdens and worries and surrender to the soothing embrace of sleep. This theme of surrender and submission is common in Christian literature, and it's clear that Quarles was drawing on his faith to convey this message.

Another important theme in the poem is the idea of time. The speaker acknowledges that life is short and fleeting, and that we must make the most of the time we have. This theme is echoed in the imagery of the poem, which we will explore in the next section.


One of the most striking aspects of "A Good Night" is its vivid imagery. The poem is filled with sensory details that help to create a peaceful, dreamlike atmosphere. Let's take a closer look at some of the most notable examples:

The night is come, like to the day; Depart not thou, great God, away.

The opening lines of the poem set the stage for what's to come. The speaker is acknowledging the arrival of night, but instead of fearing the darkness, they call upon God to stay with them. This creates a sense of security and comfort that is reinforced throughout the rest of the poem.

Let not my mind still rove and range, But stilled be where thou dost change;

Here, the speaker is asking God to quiet their mind and bring them into a state of stillness. The use of the word "range" creates a sense of restlessness, as if the mind is constantly searching for something. By contrast, "stilled" suggests a sense of calm and tranquility.

Sleep, images of things to come, Nor shut my eyes while they're awake;

This stanza introduces the idea of sleep as a source of revelation. The speaker suggests that in sleep, we can catch a glimpse of "things to come," perhaps referring to prophetic dreams or a deeper understanding of the divine. However, the line "Nor shut my eyes while they're awake" is a bit puzzling. Is the speaker suggesting that they want to stay awake to avoid missing anything? Or are they asking God to help them stay alert and aware even when they're asleep?

Let holy Charity mine arms embrace, And make me lovely in thy face.

This final stanza brings the themes of surrender and time into sharp focus. The speaker asks God to help them embrace charity, a virtue that is often associated with caring for others and putting their needs before our own. This is a powerful image, suggesting that by surrendering ourselves to God, we are also committing to living a life of love and service. The final line, "And make me lovely in thy face," is a beautiful expression of the desire to be pleasing to God.


The language of "A Good Night" is simple and direct, yet deeply poetic. The use of rhyme and meter creates a musical quality that is soothing and calming. The poem is written in iambic tetrameter, which means that each line has four iambs (an iamb is a metrical foot consisting of two syllables, with the stress falling on the second syllable). This creates a rhythmic pattern that mimics the natural cadence of speech.

The use of alliteration and assonance also adds to the musicality of the poem. For example, in the second stanza, we have the line "But stilled be where thou dost change." The repetition of the "st" sound creates a sense of stillness, while the "ou" sound in "dost" and "where" ties the two halves of the line together.

Another notable feature of the poem's language is the use of archaic words and spellings. For example, "thou" and "dost" are archaic forms of "you" and "do," respectively. This gives the poem a sense of timelessness, as if it could have been written at any point in history.


So what does it all mean? At its heart, "A Good Night" is a poem about surrendering ourselves to God and finding peace in the midst of life's uncertainties. The speaker acknowledges that life is short and that we are all subject to the whims of fate, but they also offer a solution: surrendering ourselves to God and trusting in his plan.

The imagery of the poem reinforces this message. Sleep is portrayed as a source of revelation and a way to escape the trials of everyday life. The idea of charity is also important, suggesting that by putting the needs of others before our own, we are also drawing closer to God.

Ultimately, "A Good Night" is a beautiful expression of faith and trust in the divine. It reminds us that even in the darkest of nights, we can find peace and comfort by surrendering ourselves to God. As the speaker says, "Let holy Charity mine arms embrace, / And make me lovely in thy face." With these words, Quarles invites us to embrace the virtues of love and service, and to find solace in the arms of God.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry has always been a medium of expression that has the power to evoke emotions and stir the soul. One such poem that has stood the test of time is "A Good Night" by Francis Quarles. This classic poem is a beautiful representation of the human desire for peace and tranquility, and the hope for a better tomorrow.

The poem begins with the speaker bidding farewell to the day, and welcoming the night. The speaker expresses his gratitude for the day that has passed, and looks forward to the rest that the night will bring. The opening lines of the poem set the tone for what is to come, and establish the theme of the poem - the desire for a peaceful and restful night.

"Welcome, sweet night, thou honour of our days, That long expected com'st in kindly ways! What time thou com'st, how peaceful is the street! No noise but owl's and cricket's singing feet."

The speaker then goes on to describe the beauty of the night, and how it brings a sense of calm and serenity to the world. The night is a time for rest and reflection, and the speaker revels in the peace that it brings.

"Thou art the season, when the Christian's tears Take wings, and mount above the starry spheres; Thou art the season, when the soul's in tune, And every virtue wears its brightest shoon."

The poem then takes a turn, as the speaker begins to reflect on the troubles and worries of the day. The night is a time for rest, but it is also a time for reflection and introspection. The speaker acknowledges the difficulties of life, but also expresses hope for a better tomorrow.

"Yet, O my God! thou know'st my foolish heart, And how I grieve to see the night depart; How oft I sigh, when thou dost bid me go, And leave the world, and all its joys below."

The poem ends with the speaker expressing his faith in God, and his hope for a better tomorrow. The night may bring rest and peace, but it is only a temporary respite from the troubles of the world. The speaker looks forward to the day when he will be reunited with God, and all his troubles will be left behind.

"Yet, though I mourn the loss of parting day, And sigh to see the evening fade away, I trust in thee, and in thy mercy find A hope, that cheers the darkness of my mind."

In conclusion, "A Good Night" by Francis Quarles is a beautiful and timeless poem that speaks to the human desire for peace and tranquility. The poem is a reflection on the beauty of the night, and the hope for a better tomorrow. The speaker acknowledges the difficulties of life, but also expresses faith in God and hope for the future. This classic poem is a testament to the power of poetry to evoke emotions and stir the soul, and it will continue to inspire and move readers for generations to come.

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