I’ve been rereading The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro – certainly one of the best novels of the last fifty years – it’s brilliant and wrenching and very subtle. The mood of regret that pervades the book brings to mind this poem, one of my favorites.
Care-charmer Sleep, son of the sable Night,
Brother to Death, in silent darkness born,
Relieve my anguish and restore thy light,
With dark forgetting of my care return.
And let the day be time enough to mourn
The shipwreck of my ill-adventured youth:
Let waking eyes suffice to wail their scorn
Without the torment of the night's untruth.
Cease, dreams, the images of day-desires
To model forth the passions of the morrow;
Never let rising sun approve you liars
To add more grief to aggravate my sorrow:
Still let me sleep, embracing clouds in vain.
And never wake to feel the day's disdain.
Samuel Daniel (1562-1619)