Any Morning Sunrise


Just lying on the couch and being happy.
Only humming a little, the quiet sound in the head.
Trouble is busy elsewhere at the moment; it has
so much to do in the world.
People who might judge are mostly asleep; they can’t
monitor you all the time, and sometimes they forget.
When dawn flows over the hedge you can
get up and act busy.
Little corners like this, pieces of Heaven
left lying around, can be picked up and saved.
People won’t even see that you have them,
they are so light and easy to hide.
Later in the day you can act like the others.
You can shake your head. You can frown.
                                    “Any Morning” ~ William Stafford


Comments always are welcome.

39 thoughts on “Any Morning Sunrise

  1. Not sure why but I can no longer click on the ‘like’ button on your blog and have it respond the way it should. I have an hour window in the morning before this place comes to life that I’ve come to treasure so this poem speaks to me.

    1. I wonder if you’ve bumped up against another of those Blogger/WordPress issues. I can check that by asking another Blogger user or two to attempt to ‘like’ the post. If they can’t, we’ll have a clue.

      Like you, I love the early morning hours. I always enjoyed being able to photograph sunsets from my old apartment, but after moving I lost that easy accessibility. Recently, the new owners of our property brought in professional tree-trimmers, and the sunrise view from my place opened up a bit. That’s how I managed this photo.

    2. Jeanie just gave it a try and it worked. Since you can comment, I suspect it might just have been a temporary glitch. The next time, it might work. If it doesn’t, try clearing your cache. The WP gurus have recommended that in the past for platform conflicts.

  2. “If you have been wondering where the articulate, readable poems have gone in the last third of the 20th century, you might start with [William] Stafford,” declares Victor Howes of the Christian Science Monitor. A pacifist and one of “the quiet of the land,” as he often describes himself, Stafford is known for his unique method of composition, his soft-spoken voice, and his independence from social and literary expectations. As G. E. Murray comments in a National Forum review, “Stafford generally has been appreciated as a plain talking but remarkably effective and influential American poet, one who has paradoxically fashioned a part of the mainstream of American poetry by keeping apart from its trends and politics.”

    That’s the beginning of a Poetry Foundation article about William Stafford.

    1. And those are precisely the qualities that make Stafford’s poetry appealing to me. There are some interesting parallels between his work and Mary Oliver’s; even the rather different essays of John McPhee, one of the most articulate and readable of today’s writers, are imbued with the same spirit.

  3. To a night owl like me, your sunrises are my night-sets, time to head to the burrow and snuggle in for a good day’s rest. Night-sets can be very beautiful, though.

    1. Both sunrises and sunsets are times of transition. Whether we’re coming or going when either takes place hardly matters, as long as we take a moment to appreciate what’s happening.

  4. This is a case where I appreciate the spirit and message of the poem, or at least what I’m able to pull from it, but for whatever reason I don’t find the poem, itself, very engaging. It might be one I need to sit with for a while, one of those I learn to appreciate over time. Sometimes that happens, it might not catch me on the first reading, but perhaps much later it suddenly resonates. But it’s a lovely photo and one that I think goes very well with the poem. A natural pairing.

    1. Not every poem, or every poet, appeals to everyone. Even one of my favorites, Mary Oliver, has produced some poems that made me think she should have spent a little more time with them herself before having them published. This one made me smile all the way through: perhaps because the experiences underlying his words are familiar to me, too.

      I will say that I’m more than willing to put down a book that bores me, or stop reading “important” poets whose work never, ever appeals to me. To put it another way, some poets seem to me the literary equivalents of Brussels sprouts, and I despise that vegetable. Despite everyone’s efforts to get me to appreciate them roasted, grilled, steamed, or baked, it’s not happening. For me, Stafford isn’t Brussels sprouts; he’s summer sweet corn and vine-ripened tomatoes.

  5. Got such a chuckle – at the appropriateness ( and some will not see the relevance and timelessness and universality)
    Looks like the tree trimmers actually helped everyone with their trimming.
    Trimming of things such a delicate thing.
    Enjoyed the post
    (Oh, also having trouble “liking”…next to impossible, WP and refusal to let me comment the ordinary way …may delete the “Phil”? They are fiddling with something…which recently hasn’t been always beneficial – oh, for the days of yore and the early WP happiness founders)

    1. I wonder if your issue is being caused by cross-site tracking issues. Take a look at this article. My phone uses Safari, and after I got it I had an interesting problem. I could log into The Task at Hand, but the log-in didn’t hold for Lagniappe. The only way I could like a comment or respond to it was to log in again with my shoreacres name. When I dug into the settings (Settings/Safari/Privacy) and disabled “prevent cross-site tracking,” the issue disappeared. From the article:

      “Some features on rely on our ability to track your login across different and Jetpack-connected sites. We need to be able to detect you’re logged into a account when you visit a site so that you can:

      Like posts
      Like comments
      Create or reply to comments
      Follow a site
      Access the admin bar

      This will only happen on sites with custom domains (like Sites on a free WordPress address are still “on”, as far as Safari is concerned, so it doesn’t have a problem if we track you across those sites.”

      Firefox disables cross-tracking by default now, but you can adjust the settings. I’ve never had a problem with that browser.

      It’s always something. Check the settings on whichever browsers you’re using and see if that might be the issue.

  6. I wish I could just lie on the couch and “be” but alas I have trouble not also doing something (crochet, playing a game). It’s probably something I should work on. I definitely have the shaking my head & frowning part down pat!

    1. But in the morning, before the day starts, there’s at least a chance to find a moment or two of quiet beauty. Long gone are the days of mad panic in the morning because I slept too long. I finally figured out that not every minute of the day has to be ‘productive’ in society’s sense.

    1. There’s nothing like an easy morning, like those you have at the lake. I suspect that Lizzie might rise from her slumber and invite you to share that sunrise from time to time.

    1. I can’t see the palms from my desk — or my couch, for all that — but getting up and walking a few feet to see them against the sky was worth the effort, and I thought the sight did pair well with this poem.

    1. But the the point is that we don’t have to. I found those lines entirely humorous; I was certain that Stafford intended them as irony — a kind of tongue-in-cheek joke for his readers.

      1. I just read the poem again, and when you pair those last lines with the ones just before, the frown and head shake seem to me more a way to protect those wonderful treasures that were found in the morning: like a kid carrying a very special rock in his pocket, wanting to keep it for his own.

        1. Everyone reads a poem differently, just as everyone responds differently to a painting, or photograph — or a landscape, for that matter. If we all responded to poems or paintings in the very same way, it would be boring at best! As it is, we can ‘compare notes,’ and enjoy one another’s interpretations.

    1. Until you noticed that metaphor and commented on it, I hadn’t thought much about what was essentially a throw-away line. Now, it’s occurred to me that my summer treats have less to do with ice cream and popsicles than with those delicious summer fruits and veggies: and watermelon. During our current heat wave, watermelon has been a daily afternoon treat; it’s as refreshing as Stafford’s poetry.

    1. That’s it, exactly. The world is filled with noisy people, and with people who want us to be as miserable as they are. Secreting away our joys and pleasures is a way of preserving them against the corrosive effects of negativity.

    1. Stafford’s poems do appeal to me. I know I’ve used others of his — either here, or at The Task at Hand. There’s a small selection here. One of my favorites is “When I Met My Muse” — such wonderful humor!

  7. An excellent example of poems not needing to rhyme. And an excellent inspiration for recognizing what’s important at dawn. The quiet peace of doing nothing. Lovely shot for accompaniment.

    1. When I was in 8th grade, Mrs. Deutsch criticized the poem I wrote in response to an assignment, saying it ‘didn’t rhyme.’ I was so undone I didn’t write another poem for years. So much for her opinion.

      The tree trimming really has opened things up here. I’m especially interested to see how much more morning light I’ll get in winter, when the sun moves so far south its light barely touches my patio. For now, I’m enjoying the view, although I have far fewer squirrels to enjoy. Some of them lost their homes, and are off looking for new digs.

      1. Trade offs. I am sure the squirrels found new homes but you’ll miss their visits. On the other hand, now you get to see sunrises at least until winter. The environment will have to get even hotter than it is now before I see sunrises and palm trees.

  8. I love the photograph and the poem together. They convey the essence of taking those special moments for yourself and allowing yourself to just relax and enjoy them.

    1. That’s just the way I felt.There’s something about Stafford’s poetry that suggests he’s a master of practicing what he poetically ‘preaches.’ He was connected to nature in a variety of ways, and I think that makes his poetry appealing, too.

    1. Somehow, I’ve missed knowing he taught for so many years at Lewis & Clark. I did a little exploring, and discovered that in their archives there’s this wonderfully complete listing of far more poems than usually is available online. I’m eager to explore that archive a bit — thanks for the tip!

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