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Why I Wake Early

Mary Oliver wrote this poem about being an early riser and what it can mean. I used to fight the alarm clock, turn over several times, and hit the snooze button. With age, I realized that 5:00 or 5:30 AM was the time my body wanted my mind to join it and begin the day. I eat breakfast quietly, go for a cup of tea, and reflect. I do all of this in solitude. Even the busiest Starbucks at 6:00 AM, is quiet. I find many of the things that make the day worth facing in that quiet and solitude. I find creative space there.

Hello, sun in my face.

Hello, you who made the morning

and spread it over the fields

and into the faces of the tulips

and the nodding morning glories,

and into the windows of, even, the

miserable and the crotchety –

best preacher that ever was,

dear star, that just happens

to be where you are in the universe

to keep us from ever-darkness,

to ease us with warm touching,

to hold us in the great hands of light –

good morning, good morning, good morning.


Watch, now, how I start the day

in happiness, in kindness.


About ivonprefontaine

I completed a PhD at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. Previously, I taught for 20 years and taught for 15 years in a wonderful hybrid school. My dissertation topic and research were how certain teachers experience becoming who teachers. In teaching and leanring, I am a boundary-crosser who understands moving ahead is a leap of faith. Teaching is a calling and vocation to express who I am as a person. Currently, I am waiting and listening to what calls me next. I am an educator, phenomenologist, scholar, boundary-crosser, published poet, author, parent, grandparent, and spouse.

60 responses »

  1. I love 5:30 a.m. I just wish most stores would open before 8 or 9 a.m. 😉

  2. I am up at 5:30 am also even with a work at home, make my own schedule job. I love the quiet , the feeling that no one else is up and then KaBoom – it is over before I know it. I am also a firm believer in kindness; first to ones self.

  3. I agree. I’m a early riser as well. It is my quite time. Love the poem.


  4. In some ways, I would love to be a morning person, and I could probably train myself to be, but still, I love the night.

  5. petit4chocolatier

    It is amazing that no matter what time I go to bed, I always wake up early!

  6. This is a much more encouraging way to think of my early mornings! Nice post 🙂


  7. I am up right around 5 or 6 every day. It’s before the day is even awake, & as if the dawn is happening for an audience of one…and gratitude “for the dear star where you are’….yesssss. Good everything about poem…

  8. I love Mary Oliver’s poems – thanks for sharing. I hadn’t seen this one before.

    I used to love getting up early, but it’s too hard when I can’t take a nap in the afternoon. I do better at work if I don’t get up too early.


    • I know the issue. They won’t let me nap at work either. My students did suggest the other day we should have a short afternoon nap, but I don’t know how that would go over.

      The poem is from a fairly recent book of the same title.

  9. Yes I love to raise and open my bedroom curtains just before sun raise to see the sun peep it’s yellow ball over the horizon. It is a nice feeling as well as view.

    Thanks for the visit to my blog, Savor the Food. I hope you will return as we would appreciate your comments and readership.

    Chef Randall

  10. This is so encouraging and delightful. What a glorious way to start the day.

  11. Ivon, please email me at Just a very quick question. Thanks.

  12. I love the poem, and I love good mornings. My day begins at 5.30 am. In the tropics sometimes 5.30 am is bright and sunny and some times dark. what ever is 5.30, it is perfect for my morning walks. 🙂

  13. A fellow early-riser…And one of my favorite Mary Oliver poems. I hope all your days start peacefully and every day be marked with as much kindness directed at you as you give to all..

  14. A morning person myself, I crawl out of bed,responding to the creative prowess in me, to rise and write. This can occur anytime after 3 a.m., mostly it happens around 4:30, though today was more sluggish. I love this cheerful poem, it has brightened my day!

  15. Though her poem is a bit too over the top sweetness for my tastes, I agree with your premise–I get up anywhere between 2:30 and 5 AM every morning and after feeding the circus animals their just rewards strap myself into my writing chair and ‘let the games begin–Caesar, we who are about to die salute you!>KB

  16. I don’t mind 5:30am. But – I prefer it in the days of summer.

  17. MisBehaved Woman

    You’ve been given the Versatile Blogger Award!

    Thanks for always making such thoughtful and uplifting posts – I truly enjoy your blog 🙂

  18. Beautiful and wise. And love Mary Oliver’s luminous work. Thank you for the gentle, thoughtful, inspiring post.

    • You are welcome. There is no such thing as a bad poem, but Mary Oliver is a poet who only writes great poems. I live in them and find a space in her words so easily. The thing I enjoy the most is I am not alone in loving her poetry. There is a great community.

  19. My early mornings starts at the best at 6:30 for a “not a morning person” not to bad at all. I do also find a lot of joy getting started while it is still kind of quiet out there and I am kind of proude to honor the day by getting up earlier….

  20. Getting up early starts a good day well. The problem is getting to sleep early and staying asleep.

  21. LadyBlueRose's Thoughts Into Words

    my shift ends at 1am…but I am still up to watch the day begin..usually long before the sun does
    always been an early riser…I like the breath of the morning air….
    I really enjoyed this one…
    Thank you for sharing and always stopping by to read my thoughts
    you are very kind to do so…
    Take Care…
    You Matter…

  22. There is something quietly magical about early morning. Those few moments when the rising sun is still behind the mountains silhouetting them deep blue. It raises high in the sky and the moment is gone. You have been rewarded. Virginia

    • You just described one of my mornings last summer as I stood looking out to the Rockies across a golf course in Pincher Creek Alberta. I watched deer arrive, eat, and depart. It set the day for me. Thank you for the beautiful comment.

      • I am now living on the other side of the Rockies (the lower mainland Vancouver) but years ago I lived in Calgary and enjoyed the same amazing mountain views at sunset. Virginia

      • I lived in Nelson for a couple of years and played hockey. It is a different set of mountains, but they are all so beautiful and add something to the terrain.

  23. I agree with the poem. Good to awake early and enjoy the day. Thank you for the excellent poetry.

  24. I’ve tried so hard to be a morning person … but alas …. my inner alarm clock doesn’t like mornings. But I feel much the same joy in night time as you seem to find in the a.m. Solitude, time to think… plus no nagging thoughts about housework or things that ‘ need” to be done. I love ending the day in peace and feeling that things might not have started well… but they sure ended on a great note! But … sometimes… how I envy morning people. Great post! Hope you don’t mind my notes….

  25. Well stated poem. Well explained the morning features of weather and it’s breeze.
    Right from my childhood I have been accustomed to wake up early in the morning between
    5 a.m.// 5:30 a.m.. The starts with that cool air and all the day’s work can be ended with all
    peace, I feel.
    Excellent post.

  26. What a lovely poem. Yes, I usually hate getting up early. But your poem inspires me to be thankful for the beauty and solitude of greeting each new day with a smile! THANKS, Ivon.

  27. JK Bevill - Lost Creek Publishing

    Reblogged this on lost creek publishing.

  28. I am also an earlier riser and if I lay there or drift back off, it always leads to nervous thoughts or bad dreams. Get up & ease into your day! Early risers unite!


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