15 Good Morning Poems to Start Your Day
What better way to start your day than with some good morning poems? Mornings don’t just mark the start of a new day. They symbolize new beginnings, transformations, and opportunities. Whether you are in the midst of great joy or suffering, these poems remind us of the cyclical nature of life, the regeneration that occurs every day. And they can inspire us in moments of transition in our life.
We can turn to poetry when we want to slow down, be more present, more awake to whatever is happening around and with us.
I hope you enjoy these 15 poems from different periods and cultures, and hope they inspire you in your day and in your own writing!
Leaving Baidi in the Morning
Li Bai (translated by KG Jackson)
Li Bai wrote his famous “Leaving Baidi in the Morning” while sailing down the Yangtze River on his way home from exile. Translated from Chinese, the poem maximizes brevity, yet the silences between each momentary image carry beautiful reminiscences of traditional heritage.
White mist flees the Yangzte’s speed
Rows of layered hills flash by
Monkeys screech joy to the sky
“Morning Poem” reminds us of the life force that is still present, even at those moments when we are struggling and in pain. And, like so many of Oliver’s poems, “Morning Poem” is in dialogue with the cycles of life—of death and birth, sadness and gladness, despondency and hope.
Under the orange
sticks of the sun
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again
Those Winter Sundays
Hayden says that his “ poetry is a way of coming to grips with reality…a way of discovery and definition. It is a way of solving for the unknowns.” His retrospective poem “Those Winter Sundays” perfectly embodies this, allowing a new perspective on a family relationship.
Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.
The Breeze at Dawn
Rumi translated by Coleman Barks
If you ever need inspiration, take a look at Rumi’s “The Breeze at Dawn.” It’s a good reminder of the famous carpe diem, and that there are opportunities if we just remain open to them.
The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
On the Pulse of Morning
Maya Angelous’ “On the Pulse of Morning” was read at the first inauguration of President Bill Clinton, becoming the first African American and woman to do so, as well as the first poet. The poem calls for unity and collective responsibility.
A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Marked the mastodon,
The dinosaur, who left dried tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor,
Any broad alarm of their hastening doom
Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.
Sylvia Plath’s “Morning Song” is a poem of greeting new life, that morning of another’s becoming. A poem of motherhood and of transition, it is full of love and power.
Love set you going like a fat gold watch.
The midwife slapped your footsoles, and your bald cry
Took its place among the elements.
Our voices echo, magnifying your arrival. New statue.
In a drafty museum, your nakedness
Shadows our safety. We stand round blankly as walls.
Early in the Morning
Li-Young Lee captures the nuances of love. He reflects on his childhood in “Early in the Morning” by remembering his mother’s ritual of making breakfast and doing her hair. Look around you. Love is present in the most everyday details.
While the long grain is softening
in the water, gurgling
over a low stove flame, before
the salted Winter Vegetable is sliced
for breakfast, before the birds,
my mother glides an ivory comb
through her hair, heavy
and black as calligrapher’s ink.
This Morning I Pray for My Enemies
The first line of Harjo’s “This Morning I Pray for My Enemies” is a fantastic hook and rhetorical question. The constant human battle of mind versus heart and the right versus wrong is universal yet mysterious.
And whom do I call my enemy?
An enemy must be worthy of engagement.
I turn in the direction of the sun and keep walking.
this morning (for the girls of eastern high school)
Clifton’s “this morning…” explores her own self-discovery in the midst of a society that did not embrace her. This is especially relevant in 21st century politics. Her poem is a reminder about love and resilience.
i met myself
Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802
Wordsworth talks about the early morning with a view of the River Thames and London. “Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802” is a Petrarchan sonnet that reminds us to appreciate what is around us.
Earth has not any thing to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
Will There Really Be a Morning?
Emily Dickinson was always redefining her relationship to God and faith. This is a poem specifically about redefining, and it asks us to be pilgrims on a journey to find our true purpose.
Will there really be a “Morning”?
Is there such a thing as “Day”?
Could I see it from the mountains
If I were as tall as they?
Has it feet like Water lilies?
Has it feathers like a Bird?
Is it brought from famous countries
Of which I have never heard?
Hendes Second Section 14
Written in periods of insomnia, Everything Awake, the book this poem is part of is about being aware of the world in all its sensitive details. Steensen herself writes “Everything Awake was written during a dreamy, disorienting peiod of insomnia. In the middle of the night, I began to study Catullus, imagining that his hendesyllabic rhythms might such me to sleep. Instead, they prompted a series of eleven-line poems with eleven syllables per line. I was drawn to the number, via Catullus, because it felt both excessive and insufficient…”
One knows the dawn by the line dawn.
The burning ship on the horizon—the image
of terror and no way to get out there.
Terror holds both, not only an exchange
but a pain and a new love affair
God’s True Cloak
Rainer Maria Rilke translated by Joanna Macy
Rilke’s “God’s True Cloak” offers a window into various stages of Rilke’s spiritual journey and encourages us on our own. It’s a perfect meditation for a bright morning.
We must not portray you in king’s robes,
you drifting mist that brought forth the morning.
Once again from the old paintboxes
we take the same gold for scepter and crown
that has disguised you through the ages.
Foreday in the Morning
Here, Jericho Brown explores how the smallest truths in life, such as saying I love you to a mother, hold much larger implications, such as love for the entire humanity.
My mother grew morning glories that spilled onto the walkway toward her porch
Because she was a woman with land who showed as much by giving it color.
She told me I could have whatever I worked for. That means she was an American.
The Morning is Full
Pablo Neruda translated by W.S. Merwin
Sometimes, as Pablo Neruda puts it, the “morning is full of storm in the heart of summer.” This poem is lyrical and evokes the feel of a love song, even when all may seem hopeless. Never forget, however, that tomorrow is always a new morning.
The morning is full of storm
in the heart of summer.
The clouds travel like white handkerchiefs of goodbye,
the wind, traveling, waving them in its hands.
These 15 poems are here for you to help you start your day, and they’re a resource to turn to any time you find yourself in a time of transition.
They are here to inspire you and to remind you of all the different ways to greet your experiences.
There is an ever-growing understanding of the ways in which our attention affects our mood, our health, and our whole society. As we pay greater attention, we come into more mindful, caring, healthy ways of interacting with ourselves and with our world. Poetry can help us do this, not, as we have seen here, by being overly easy or “nice,” but by taking in the full range of human experience and making meaning of it.
I love to start my mornings with both meditation and poetry. This helps me center and also feel connection—with myself, with language, and with others, across time and space.
You can try some of my guided meditations for writers at the link below.
Expression, both individually and collectively, is one of the key indices of health. This recent article explores poetry in the domain of public health. I think it’s interesting to place our engagement with language in these larger contexts because we all both live within and are always shaping anew our world through the language we use and the stories we tell.
I’d love to hear your thoughts! Please share your own morning routines and list of good morning poems in the comments below. And please share any writing that you may have done from any of the prompts from the poems.