We spoke to some tired looking parents this morning. It seems that some little people are not very good at going to bed, and going to sleep. Our own little people have settled into an acceptable routine now; toilet, teeth and then two stories. It wasn’t too long ago that the littlest man would not go to sleep easily. Every night there was an extra part of the routine. I would lie on the floor and my hand would be held in the bars of his cot by my wrist. I would hold his hand and gently sing a lullaby. Eventually the lullaby would turn into a hum, and then silence. If I moved my hand slowly away and his did not grasp mine more tightly, then I would know he was asleep. Now he chuckles and giggles at his older brother, the little man, at the other side of the room. Then both of them usually drift off to sleep in silence. I thought this was a good thing; progress. Until tonight, when I thought differently after reading some Rilke. They grow up so fast.
To Say Before Going To Sleep
by Rainer Maria Rilke
I would like to sing someone to sleep,
have someone to sit by and be with.
I would like to cradle you and softly sing,
be your companion while you sleep or wake.
I would like to be the only person
in the house who knew: the night outside was cold.
And would like to listen to you
and outside to the world and to the woods.
The clocks are striking, calling to each other,
and one can see right to the edge of time.
Outside the house a strange man is afoot
and a strange dog barks, wakened from his sleep.
Beyond that there is silence.
My eyes rest upon your face wide-open;
and they hold you gently, letting you go
when something in the dark begins to move.