In John Keats's poem "To Sleep" the construction of the poem works to enhance the reader's interpretation. The poem dwells within a sonnet form, extolling all the virtues of "sleep." Falling within the general bounds of the sonnet, the poem is the obligatory fourteen lines of iambic pentameter coupled with an elaborate rhyme scheme. Although most closely resembling the English sonnet, the deliberate wanderings of the poem from this strict sonnet form merely serve to enhance the meaning of the poem.
Within the first two quatrains of the poem "sleep" is personified to be an "embalmer of the still midnight," closing our eyes and offering a "forgetfulness divine." The voice of the poem speaks to "sleep," referring to his words as "thine hymn," and offering himself to "sleep" when it should choose. The rhyme scheme of these two quatrains follows the Shakespearian sonnet form, and does not deviate from the iambic pentameter.
This lends the poem a natural tone and the voice of the poem appears to be speaking in a quite ordinary manner. The words at the end of each line not only follow the rhyme scheme but serve a dual purpose, furthering the relationship between the form of the poem and the reader's interpretation. "Midnight," "benign," "light," and "divine," these four closing words of the first four lines establish an impression of the voice of the poem's position upon "sleep." This allows the reader to better understand the references to "hymn" and "Amen" in the second quatrain.
Although the majority of the lines within these two quatrains are end-stopped, in line 5 the voice of the poem becomes more emotional, and beseeches "sleep" to do as it will. The voice exclaims "O soothest sleep!," striking the reader to take notice that the line spills over in...