Tuesday Poem – Four in the Morning – Wislawa Szymborska

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.
The 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.

I’ve thought a lot about the above hour lately. At present I am managing to avoid it and if I do wake up then and can’t sleep I get up and have a hot drink or read something inspiring. Yesterday I was having a few challenges so in an effort to brighten my day I started with the chocolate (sugar free of course) and then progressed to camomile tea before sitting down to a large bowl of pasta! As I ate I listened to a Ted talk. (If you’ve never done so I recommend you try it. There’s an inspirational talk on just about every topic you can think of. And they’re short and easy to listen to from my experience.)

At Ted.com I selected this link, charming talks for a boost on a bad day.   

I chose a talk by the poet Rive. It was titled The Museum of Four in the Morning. It was in turn inspired by the above poem and was a lot of fun. Anyway for me the bonus was an introduction to a poet I’d never read; the Polish Nobel Prize winner Wislawa Szymborska.

What a wonderful find she was. Such a sense of humour she had.

And if you’re not headed for ted.com you might like to go to Tuesday Poem and catch up on what’s been happening among the faithful few who keep on posting.

 

Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:

“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes–how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.”

 

Did you know or remember the words of this poem? I certainly didn’t though the title and rhythm are as familiar as the smell of a Christmas pine.

The poem was written by Dr. Clement C. Moore. He was born in a house near Chelsea Square, New York City, in 1781; and he lived there all his life. It was a great big house, with fireplaces in it;–just the house to be living in on Christmas Eve.

To read a lovely story about the poem’s origins and how it is still celebrated, go here and scroll down.

A very interesting biography of Moore can be found here

This more controversial view of Moore and how the poem originated, makes interesting reading.

And if you have children in the house they might enjoy this short cartoon video

If you want to read my own version of Christmas, Grandma’s Kiwi Christmas is available in a number of online sites and local bookstores.  Click on the book cover for this title in my left hand column to view inside the book.

And meanwhile I wish you all a peaceful and contented Christmas season and a bountiful 1917.

 

To read more poems for Tuesday go here.