‘I don’t sleep’

First it’s a sound that makes another sound, in the nocturnal hollow of things. Then it’s a low howl, accompanied by the creaking of the street’s swaying signboards. And then the voice of space becomes a shout, a roar, and everything shudders, nothing sways, and there’s silence in the dread of all this, like a speechless dread that sees another dread when the first one has passed.

Then there’s nothing but wind, just wind, and I sleepily notice how the doors shake in their frames and how the glass in the windows loudly resists.

I don’t sleep. I interexist. A few vestiges of consciousness persist. I feel the weight of slumber but not of unconsciousness. I don’t exist. The wind… I wake up and go back to sleep without yet having slept. There’s a landscape of loud and indistinct sound beyond which I’m a stranger to myself. I cautiously delight in the possibility of sleeping. I really do sleep, but don’t know if I’m sleeping. In what seems to me like a slumber there is always a sound of the end of all things, the wind in the darkness, and, if I listen closely, the sound of my own lungs and heart.

— Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet (tr. R. Zenith)

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