Sweet and Low (poem)

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"Sweet and Low" is a poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Written in 1849,[1] Tennyson sent two versions of the poem to Emily Sellwood in November,[2][3] asking her to select which one to include in the revised 1850 edition of The Princess,[4] where it intercalates canto II and III.[5]

Charles Kingsley in a review in Fraser's Magazine (September 1850) found the poem so exquisite that he quoted it in full,[6][7] and it became, as did the other five "songs" inserted in 1850 edition of The Princess, a poem widely translated in Europe.[8]


Sweet and low, sweet and low,
   Wind of the western sea,
Low, low, breathe and blow,
   Wind of the western sea!
Over the rolling waters go,
   Come from the dying moon, and blow,
Blow him again to me;
   While my little one, while my pretty one, sleeps.

Sleep and rest, sleep and rest,
   Father will come to thee soon;
Rest, rest, on mother's breast,
   Father will come to thee soon;
Father will come to his babe in the nest,
   Silver sails all out of the west,
Under the silver moon:
   Sleep, my little one, sleep, my pretty one, sleep.

In popular culture[edit]

The title has been reused used many times, notably by Benjamin Eisenstadt in 1957 for his artificial sweetener brand Sweet'n Low.[9][10] Mary Higgins Clark's 1989 novel While My Pretty One Sleeps takes its title from the first stanza.

Jo Stafford and Gordon MacRae included the song on their 1955 album Memory Songs.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Alfred Lord Tennyson (29 January 2004). Selected Poems. Penguin Books Limited. pp. 560–. ISBN 978-0-14-193487-7.
  2. ^ Ralph Wilson Rader (1963). Tennyson's Maud: The Biographical Genesis. University of California Press. pp. 80–. ISBN 978-0-520-03617-8.
  3. ^ Leonee Ormond (15 October 1993). Alfred Tennyson: A Literary Life. Palgrave Macmillan UK. pp. 106–. ISBN 978-1-349-22998-7.
  4. ^ V. Purton; N. Page (20 October 2010). The Palgrave Literary Dictionary of Tennyson. Palgrave Macmillan UK. pp. 294–. ISBN 978-0-230-24494-8.
  5. ^ Morton Luce (1971). Tennyson. Folcroft Library Editions. Canto iii. is prefixed the exquisite cradle song Sweet and Low, in which a child is a bond of love between parents who are sundered by distance.
  6. ^ Fraser's Magazine. Vol. 42. 1850. pp. 251–.
  7. ^ John D. Jump (31 October 2013). Lord Alfred Tennyson: The Critical Heritage. Routledge. pp. 182–. ISBN 978-1-136-17296-0.
  8. ^ Leonee Ormond (17 November 2016). The Reception of Alfred Tennyson in Europe. Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 14–. ISBN 978-1-350-01252-3.
  9. ^ The federal reporter. 1970. pp. 1096–. While the record does not refer to it, the genesis of the mark would appear to be Alfred Lord Tennyson's song, included in "The Princess" at the conclusion of Part II, Sweet and low, sweet and low, Wind of the Western sea, ...
  10. ^ Rich Cohen (31 July 2013). Sweet and Low: A Family Story. Random House. pp. 89–. ISBN 978-1-4464-1990-8.