For the Bird Singing Before Dawn by Kim Stafford

Some people presume to be hopeful
when there is no evidence for hope,
to be happy when there is no cause.
Let me say now, I’m with them.

In deep darkness on a cold twig
in a dangerous world, one first
little fluff lets out a peep, a warble,
a song—and in a little while, behold:

the first glimmer comes, then a glow
filters through the misty trees,
then the bold sun rises, then
everyone starts bustling about.

And that first crazy optimist, can we
forgive her for thinking, dawn by dawn,
“Hey, I made that happen!
And oh, life is so fine.”

For the Bird Singing Before Dawn

I like to think I’m one of those people Stafford talks about, who presumes to be hopeful without evidence, to be happy when there is no cause. Still, there are days when my hope-energy wanes, and a poem like this can rejuvenate me, allowing me to rejoin the tribe, even for that moment.

In a place of deep darkness in a dangerous world, there is one first / little fluff breaking the silence with a peep, a warble, / a song and I breathe a sigh of recognition and relief. Then comes a glimmer, a glow before the bold sun rises. I’m not always up that early, but it is a unique time of day before we all start to bustle about, a time to reflect on the beauty all around us.

Someone has to be the first to announce the dawn before they all join in, and Stafford playfully imagines her thinking Hey, I made that happen! I brought up the sun! and oh, life is so fine. And isn’t it so, that just those first notes of birdsong can give us even a moment of joy, of hopefulness. Listen tomorrow morning and perhaps you’ll hear a fluff of happiness, even when there is no cause.

12 thoughts on “For the Bird Singing Before Dawn by Kim Stafford

  1. Dear Jan – Such a timely poem on many levels. The eastern phoebe woke me up early this morning; yes, life is fine! Thank you. Love – Mary Lou

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  2. Thanks Jan – yes, hearing the birds big time after the silence of Winter – got my face looking to the sun – cloudy now, however, chirp! chirp!

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  3. Exactly, Jan! Its the Robins wake me while its still dark as they begin singing up the day, as I think of it. Its a commitment but someone has to do it! And as the chorus builds, as the light rises, I lie there a-float on the wild singing feeling a joy the terrible news of the world cannot diminish. At least for a while , I rest there knowing again that hope is a thing with feathers. And it sings the day in.

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  4. oh Wendy, your response is its own poem – I lie there a-float on the wild singing feeling a joy the terrible news of the world cannot diminish. This I will remember, deep thanks. love Jan

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  5. Such a gift to find this poem in my inbox this morning! Thank you, Jan. I, too, and “with them”. The birds sing even when the world is on fire – as it seems to be right now. And the sun still comes up. This poem also reminds me of my father who often had his morning coffee on the porch early, VERY early before he went to work. He always said “best part of the day”. I think the poem is about extreme optimism. It also reminds me of a favorite line from Marvin Bell’s poem To No One in Particular – “Whether you sing or scream, the process is the same”. Given the choice, I choose to sing. Thanks again, Jan. I love this poem!

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  6. What a great quote Shirley and like you, I choose to sing. Sounds like your father understood those early hours really are the best part of the day. thank you for your reflections. Jan xoxo

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  7. Jan, I like to think I’m one of the hopeful ones, too. And like you, there are days when I cannot summon the joy. And yet the birds still find that hopefulness!
    Thank you for welcoming my dawn. xoxo

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