Poets for centuries have lauded the serenity that sleep can bring. From Rolfe Humphries’s gorgeous translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, here’s Alcyone in Book 11 addressing Morpheus, the God of Sleep:
O mildest of the gods, most gentle Sleep,
Rest of all things, the spirit’s comforter,
Router of care, O soother and restorer . . .
O, to be able to sneak off on a weeknight to Morpheus’s cave where
[ . .] No bird
With clarion cry ever calls out the morning,
Dogs never break the silence with their barking,
Geese never cackle, cattle never low,
No boughs move in the stir of air, no people
Talk in human voices. Only quiet.
From under the rock’s base a little stream,
A branch of Lethe, trickles, with a murmur
over the shiny pebbles, whispering Sleep!
Before its doors great beds of poppies bloom
And other herbs, whose juices Night distills
To sprinkle slumber over the darkened earth.
There is no door to turn upon its hinge
With jarring sound, no guardian at the gate.
I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day.
We’re talking two the three a.m., brothers and sisters, the illuminated digits of the alarm clock silently progressing towards Morpheus-bereft morn and its traffic-choked slow progression to an awaiting electronic mailbox teeming with emails cajoling, demanding, chuckling, warning, applauding, joking, alerting, reminding.
What we need is a 3 a.m. surefire lullaby for adults that will allow “[t]he kind assassin Sleep” to “draw a bead and blow [our] brains out” (Richard Wilbur, “Walking to Sleep”).
However, brothers and sisters, this ain’t it: