15 Good Morning Poems to Start Your Day

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Nadia Colburn // June 6, 2024 // 16 Comments

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!

Want to pair reading a poem with a meditation? Try meditating first with this 10-minute meditation recording (the second one on the page) and then reading one of the poems. What do you notice? How does meditating first perhaps open you up to the poem in a new way? Leave a comment below 🙂

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

Mary Oliver

“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.

Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange

sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again

Those Winter Sundays
Robert Hayden

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 Angelou

Maya Angelou’s “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. 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.

Morning Song
Sylvia Plath

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

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
Joy Harjo

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)
Lucille Clifton

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.

this morning
this morning
i met myself
coming in
a bright
jungle girl

Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802 
William Wordsworth

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

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
Sasha Steenson

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
Jericho Brown

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.

  • Dear Nadia,

    I am simply writing to thank you for this remarkable collection of poems. I so appreciate the ease with which one can move on to the completion of the poem and then back again to the list of poems, which has already been aligned for the seeker to begin the next poem of the 15.

    From me to you, gratitude for this morning offering.

  • I just saw this email. Thank you for providing this wonderful opportunity to get a great start on the morning.

  • Dear Nadia,

    Grateful for your open heart in sharing these treasures.

    May the light of dawn anoint your eyes that you may behold what a miracle a day is.

    With a humble bow,

  • Thank you for this lovely collection, Nadia!
    It has reconnected me to myself in a way that I have not felt in some time, amidst the hustle and bustle of the demands of everyday responsibilities!

  • I’ve been slowly working through these morning poems – and a few of my own, as well. Thank you, Nadia, for this gift. It has renewed my love for reading poetry and responding to the ideas with thoughts of my own. The prompts have inspired me to write my own morning poems. Again, thank you, Nadia!

  • Every morning when i wake i chant the Modeh Ani prayer. Ani modeh means i am thankful, but the prayer begins with the words reversed so gratitude will be the first words on your lips each morning.

  • Thank you so much , Nadia. This is a beautiful gift. I can’t wait to get started with this treasury. Grateful as always

  • Nadia–once again, you somehow knew the exact time to serendipitously offer this inspiringly curated collection of poems. I have little time off before I start teaching summer school and have been so obsessed with getting all my creative projects done that I’ve exhausted myself and completed nothing! Your email and 15 poems have reminded me that first I must center myself–show up for myself…meditate, write, chant, cry–my creativity must flow from that place.
    Thank you. Your personal journey through mindfulness and full integration is a lifeline.

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