It is a small relief to discover that “A Charm”, no. 4 from A Charm of Lullabies Op. 41, by Benjamin Britten, was indeed intended as comical by the poet Thomas Randolph (1605-1635).
Picture: William Blake. Cerberus. National Gallery of Victoria.
Sleep! or I will make
Erinnys whip thee with a snake,
And cruel Rhadamanthus take
Thy body to the boiling lake,
Where fire and brimstones never slake;
Thy heart shall burn, thy head shall ache,
And ev’ry joint about thee quake;
And therefor dare not yet to wake!
Sleep! or thou shalt see
The horrid hags of Tartary,
Whose tresses ugly serpants be,
And Cerberus shall bark at thee,
And all the Furies that are three
The worst is called Tisiphone,
Shall lash thee to eternity;
And therefor sleep thou peacefully