This website was archived on July 21, 2019. It is frozen in time on that date.

Sonya Mann's active website is Sonya, Supposedly.

Dropping from the Veils of Morning

Photo of a misty morning by Conal Gallagher.
Photo by Conal Gallagher.

Recently I discovered the poem “Morning” by Billy Collins. I love it in the same way that I love the peaceful verses of Yeats’ “Innisfree”. Ironically, I first read “Morning” late at night, because I couldn’t sleep and I thought poetry might soothe me. Oh well — the time was past midnight, so it was technically morning, right? Here is the poem, in full:

“Why do we bother with the rest of the day,
the swale of the afternoon,
the sudden dip into evening,

then night with his notorious perfumes,
his many-pointed stars?

This is the best—
throwing off the light covers,
feet on the cold floor,
and buzzing around the house on espresso—

maybe a splash of water on the face,
a palmful of vitamins—
but mostly buzzing around the house on espresso,

dictionary and atlas open on the rug,
the typewriter waiting for the key of the head,
a cello on the radio,

and, if necessary, the windows—
trees fifty, a hundred years old
out there,
heavy clouds on the way
and the lawn steaming like a horse
in the early morning.”

I found this poem on page 31 of Billy Collin’s collection Picnic, Lighting. The book’s title references a passage from the infamous novel Lolita. Humbert Humbert is describing his personal history:

“My very photogenic mother died in a freak accident (picnic, lightning) when I was three, and, save for a pocket of warmth in the darkest past, nothing of her subsists within the hollows and dells of memory […].”

Because of the allusion to Lolita, I know that Billy Collins loves a book that has fascinated me since I was a teenager. Enjoying one novel in common seems like a tenuous connection, but that’s the beauty of reading — sharing literature connects people in spite of material obstacles. Billy Collins is an elderly man and I’m a young woman, but we would have plenty to talk about.

That’s also why the poem “Morning” delights me. As it happens, I am a morning person who prefers to write early, although I’m not an espresso aficionado. Nothing feels better than starting work when the sun does. Waking up early has a significant impact on my mood throughout the rest of the day.

Reading this poem, I feel happy that my own feelings are so well-described by someone else — described in clear, beautiful language. That last image, of dew steaming from the lawn like sweat from a stallion, is so unexpected and enchanting. Yes, “enchanting” is definitely the right word: Billy Collins gave me a moment of magic. It’s trite but it’s true.

Sign up for my newsletter to stay abreast of my new writing and projects.

I am a member of the Amazon Associates program. If you click on an Amazon link from this site and subsequently buy something, I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you).