No doubt many struggle with sleep. It is a common thing, I am told. Especially when you get older. Especially when you are a woman getting older. Needing to understand why, I actually went to a sleep clinic. Did I sleep? Of course not. And my suspicions were confirmed: I have insomnia!

In fact, I have always been a restless sleeper. Typically, I read late into the night as a means of calming my brain. Even though “they say” to avoid screens late at night, I often resort to scanning the Internet on my phone. Catching up with who is posting what on Facebook.

Recently I checked out a TED Talk post recommended by a friend. The “www” link said “Rives the museum of four in the morning”. Sounds perfect, I thought! It is not quite 4 in the morning, but close enough!

I was immediately struck by a reference to Alfred Nobel whose name is readily associated with the Nobel Prize – dating back to 1896. My interest was piqued when Rives made reference to a Polish poet – Wislawa Szymborska – who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1996. Now my sleepless brain was fully engaged. One of her well-known poems? Four O’clock in the Morning!

Out of courtesy, I watched the Four in the Morning TED Talk in its entirety. It was very entertaining, and I recommend it highly. Apparently “four o’clock in the morning” is a “thing”. A reference used extensively – in books, in movies, in songs. One of my favorite references cited is attributed to Marlene Dietrich.

It’s the friends you can call at 4 a.m… that matter.

I have yet to test that one, but it is a comfort to know it may be true. What about that poem about 4 a.m. by Szymborska? It is now part of my sleepless repertoire!


Four O’clock in the Morning

The hour from night to day.
The hour from side to side.
The hour for those past thirty.

The hour swept clean to the crowing of cocks.
The hour when earth betrays us.
Th hour when wind blows from extinguished stars.
The hour of and-what-if-nothing-remains-after-us.

The hollow hour.
Blank, empty.
The very pit of all other hours.

No one feels good at four in the morning.
If ants feel good at four in the morning
– three cheers for the ants. And let five o’clock come
if we’re to go on living.


Photo by Daria Shevtsova

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