"We thought her dying whilst she slept"

This is a line from Thomas Hood’s poem The Death Bed (1846):


Woman on her Deathbed, Van Gogh, 1883
Public DomainWoman on her Deathbed, Van Gogh, 1883 - Credit: wikimedia commons

We watched her breathing through the night

Her breathing soft and low,

As in her breast the wave of life

Kept heaving to and fro.


So silently we seemed to speak,

So slowly moved about,

As we had lent her half our powers

To eke her living out.


                                                                                                                                  Our very hopes belied our fears,

                                                                                                                                  Our fears our hopes belied --

                                                                                                                                  We thought her dying when she slept,

                                                                                                                                  And sleeping when she died.


                                                                                                                                 For when the morn came dim and sad,

                                                                                                                                 And chill with early showers,

                                                                                                                                 Her quiet eyelids closed -- she had

                                                                                                                                 Another morn than ours.