Most days you can visit @Thinkinthemorning on Facebook and view a poem we’ve chosen to start the morning. We have assembled some of the poems posted thus far. We will post a additional pages of poems from time to time.
Most Americans don’t encounter poetry in the course of their daily lives … fewer than 7% of Americans polled in 2012 had read a work of poetry in the past year. It would seem that posting poems is a waste of time although I’m certain many, including Think in the Morning, would disagree. In the world of social media where ideas, thoughts, pictures, events, opinions, arguments, wisdom and nonsense proliferate faster than the time to read them, a poem can slow us down, restore quiet reflection, put us in touch with whatever is important to us internally. The Witter Bynner translation of Lao Tzu says it this way: “Who will prefer the jingle of jade pendants if he once has heard stone growing in a cliff !
If you like these poems, go to your local bookstore and find a copy of the poet’s work and buy it, read it.
Four in the Morning
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.
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.
I went out on an April morning
All alone, for my heart was high,
I was a child of the shining meadow,
I was a sister of the sky.
There in the windy flood of morning
Longing lifted its weight from me,
Lost as a sob in the midst of cheering,
Swept as a sea-bird out to sea.
Blues at Dawn
I don’t dare start thinking in the morning. I don’t dare start thinking in the morning. If I thought thoughts in bed, Them thoughts would bust my head – So I don’t dare start thinking in the morning. I don’t dare remember in the morning Don’t dare remember in the morning. If I recall the day before, I wouldn’t get up no more – So I don’t dare remember in the morning.
Shadows, on the far wall,
of courtyard, from the sun back of house, faint
traceries, of the leaves,
the arch of the balcony–
greens, faded white,
high space of flat
sits opposite this
window, in high door,
across the floor here
from this table
where I’m sitting writing,
feet on cold floor’s
tiles, watching this light
The sun arises from the sea,
And all around his rays is flinging,
The flowers are opening on the lea,
The merry birds are singing.
The summer breeze is rustling past,
Sweet scents are gathering around it,
The rivulet is flowing fast,
Beside the banks that bound it.
All nature seemeth to rejoice,
In the returning summer weather;
Let us with nature raise our voice,
And harmonise together.
But not alone for summer skies
Shall praise unto our God be given:
This day our Saviour did arise,
And oped the gate of heaven.
To sinful man, if only he
His errings will confess with sorrow,
Then, after earth’s night-misery,
Shall dawn a glorious morrow:
A blissful bright eternity
Bought by the rising of the Giver,
To Whom all praise, all honour be,
For ever and for ever
Morning Song from “Senlin”
IT is morning, Senlin says, and in the morning
When the light drips through the shutters like the dew,
I arise, I face the sunrise,
And do the things my fathers learned to do.
Stars in the purple dusk above the rooftops
Pale in a saffron mist and seem to die,
And I myself on swiftly tilting planet
Stand before a glass and tie my tie.
Vine-leaves tap my window,
Dew-drops sing to the garden stones, 10
The robin chirps in the chinaberry tree
Repeating three clear tones.
It is morning. I stand by the mirror
And tie my tie once more.
While waves far off in a pale rose twilight 15
Crash on a white sand shore.
I stand by a mirror and comb my hair:
How small and white my face!—
The green earth tilts through a sphere of air
And bathes in a flame of space.
There are houses hanging above the stars
And stars hung under a sea…
And a sun far off in a shell of silence
Dapples my walls for me….
It is morning, Senlin says, and in the morning
Should I not pause in the light to remember God?
Upright and firm I stand on a star unstable,
He is immense and lonely as a cloud.
I will dedicate this moment before my mirror
To him alone, for him I will comb my hair.
Accept these humble offerings, clouds of silence!
I will think of you as I descend the stair.
Vine-leaves tap my window,
The snail-track shines on the stones;
Dew-drops flash from the chinaberry tree 35
Repeating two clear tones.
It is morning, I awake from a bed of silence,
Shining I rise from the starless waters of sleep.
The walls are about me still as in the evening,
I am the same, and the same name still I keep. 40
The earth revolves with me, yet makes no motion,
The stars pale silently in a coral sky.
In a whistling void I stand before my mirror,
Unconcerned, and tie my tie.
There are horses neighing on far-off hills 45
Tossing their long white manes,
And mountains flash in the rose-white dusk,
Their shoulders black with rains….
It is morning, I stand by the mirror
And surprise my soul once more; 50
The blue air rushes above my ceiling,
There are suns beneath my floor….
…It is morning, Senlin says, I ascend from darkness
And depart on the winds of space for I know not where;
My watch is wound, a key is in my pocket,
And the sky is darkened as I descend the stair.
There are shadows across the windows, clouds in heaven,
And a god among the stars; and I will go
Thinking of him as I might think of daybreak
And humming a tune I know….
Vine-leaves tap at the window,
Dew-drops sing to the garden stones,
The robin chirps in the chinaberry tree
Repeating three dear tones.
Full many a glorious morning have I seen
Flatter the mountain tops with sovereign eye,
Kissing with golden face the meadows green,
Gilding pale streams with heavenly alchemy;
Anon permit the basest clouds to ride
With ugly rack on his celestial face,
And from the forlorn world his visage hide,
Stealing unseen to west with this disgrace:
Even so my sun one early morn did shine,
With all triumphant splendour on my brow;
But out, alack, he was but one hour mine,
The region cloud hath mask’d him from me now.
Yet him for this my love no whit disdaineth;
Suns of the world may stain when heaven’s sun staineth.
The brain is a wonderful organ;
it starts working the moment you get up in the morning
and does not stop until you get into the office.
O holy virgin! clad in purest white,
Unlock heav’n’s golden gates, and issue forth;
Awake the dawn that sleeps in heaven; let light
Rise from the chambers of the east, and bring
The honied dew that cometh on waking day.
O radiant morning, salute the sun,
Rouz’d like a huntsman to the chace; and,
with Thy buskin’d feet, appear upon our hills.
Behind the boredom and endless cares
Which burden our fogged existence with their weight,
Happy is the man who can with vigorous wing
Mount to those luminous serene fields!
The man whose thoughts, like larks,
Take liberated flight toward the morning skies
—Who hovers over life and understands without effort
The language of flowers and voiceless things!
From A Poem of God’s Mercy
Our city of dreadful night will blossom into a sea-morning!
Only bear with us, bear with my song,
For at dawn is the reckoning and the last night is long.
A Standing Ground
Flee fro the press, and dwelle with sothfastnesse
Suffyce unto thy thyng, tho hit be small …
However just and anxious I have been
I will stop and step back
from the crowd of those who may agree
with what I say, and be apart.
There is no earthly promise of life or peace
but where the roots branch and weave
their patient silent passages in the dark;
uprooted, I have been furious without an aim.
I am not bound for any public place,
but for ground of my own
where I have planted vines and orchard trees,
and in the heat of day climbed up
into the healing shadow of the woods.
Better than any argument is to rise at dawn
and pick dew-wet red berries in a cup.