Three Cheers for the Ants

Three cheers for the ants


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.


Translated by Magus J. Krynski and Robert A. Maguire

From Sounds, Feelings, Thoughts:  Seventy Poems by Wislawa Szymborska (Princeton UP, 1981)





15 responses

  1. Contrasted subjects nicely composed !

    May 3, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    • Thank you, Yoshi-sensei. Subject and composition credit goes to Mother Nature. 🙂

      May 4, 2014 at 2:45 pm

  2. I like it……both the photo and the poetry. Interestingly, 4AM is my “best” hour…..I get up then just so I can enjoy the blowing wind from the extinguished stars!


    May 3, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    • Thank you, Pam. Oh, goodness, 4AM, your best hour! Well, if you’re rising at that hour, after a good night’s rest, then I can imagine it could be a very productive time of day! 🙂

      May 4, 2014 at 2:42 pm

  3. Wonderful poem 🙂

    May 3, 2014 at 10:07 pm

  4. I think the ants are probably happy at just about any time. Is that a feather it’s on?

    May 3, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    • Yes, it’s a pile of baby bird feathers. It took me forever to capture one of the tiny ants that was crawling over it.

      May 4, 2014 at 2:32 pm

  5. I am alone this evening … Joanna and a very good friend have gone to Maryland for the weekend. This was a hard day of work, playing catch-up with the farm. It has begun to rain. I am looking forward to the return of voices to the house. I opened my reader and there were Wislawa’s words. In the light of my previous response concerning my fear of such things … I read on. Far be it for me to say with assurance that ‘I got it,’ but I certainly got something from it … and that’s what it’s about … right? Nice image too. D

    May 3, 2014 at 11:55 pm

    • Right. 🙂 It’s nice when we get something from it. Thanks, Dave. Enjoy the return of voices. 🙂

      May 4, 2014 at 2:25 pm

  6. Yes, let five o’clock come if we’re to go on living. Wonderful poem. Is that a palm tree outside the window? A really great image. Or did you layer it? Very effective, whatever you did. 🙂

    May 4, 2014 at 1:45 am

    • Thank you, George. I was lying on the ground with my camera mounted on my gorilla pod aimed over a pile of feathers on the ground (the remains of some poor baby bird). TINY ants were crawling all over the feathers (it’s not clear from this just how itty bitty this ant is), but I could never “catch” them. I tried the timer and I tried just snapping, etc. This was the only salvageable image I got. I played with it in Nik Analog Efex.

      May 4, 2014 at 2:19 pm

  7. A wonderful little world.

    May 4, 2014 at 1:18 pm

  8. Intriguing and evasive – the image is like a reflection of that half-dream state, where younlie awake and worry.

    May 5, 2014 at 6:14 am

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