Four Legs in the Morning: What’s Up With Morning? (and/or, Who’s Up With Morning?)

Awake for Travel, the Sphinx, and Ramona the Pest and the Dawnzer Light (Happy Birthday, Beverly Cleary!)

Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star.”—That’s Henry David Thoreau, and we’re awake, you and I! And Ramona the Pest, a companion Walden spirit—an Alice in Wonderland type of Lewis Carroll to get us going.

Good morning to you! (Sing) THIS April, Dickinson’s “that April” the snit and pout that comes from sooooo looking forward to it, and speaking of looking forward, for, produced by Zappa Johns, who has us all remember Hamilton is coming, we’ll be live from New York, and you don’t have to be scammed by 600 tickets that don’t actually exist . . . Today we’re thinking about morning, what actually is broken when dawn is breakin . . . you’re already singing, my bags are packed, I’m ready to go, and so you are, you dear Poetry Slow Down, with me, your Professor Barbara Mossberg, Dr. B, and you’re slowing down, because you know you move too fast, and your feets too big, but that’s another story, another song, now for now . . .

It was once said: True love is like sunrise and sunset. Such things occur every day, but people seldom see them.—Somerset Maugham. This makes me think how it’s true that sunrise is largely ignored by us in our day—deliberately—by people who would equate seeing it with suffering—and there’s something about dawn that has always been emotional—from breaking up love, such as John Donne’s “busy old fool,” and we’ll hear why and how to wake up from Rumi, Shakespeare, Mary Oliver, Emily Dickinson, Henry David Thoreau, Charles Bukowski, Raymond Carver, Edward Fitzgerald, Homer, Sylvia Plath, Edmund Rostand, Maya Angelou, and me, trying to cover Thoreau in the Andrews Experimental Forest of Oregon State University, pursuing morning 24/7, with music by Leonard Cohen, Count Basie.

SO the busy old fool interrupts loving, and Dawn is breakin’ . . . and it’s time for leaving . . . what’s broken?

Let’s start where Thoreau says all intelligences start—

The morning, which is the most memorable season of the day, is the awakening hour. Then there is least somnolence in us; and for an hour, at least, some part of us awakes which slumbers all the rest of the day and night… All memorable events, I should say, transpire in morning time and in a morning atmosphere. The Vedas say, “All intelligences awake with the morning.”

And you’re the biggest intelligence, you Dante, here engaging with poetry in the middle of the dark woods of your life. I am thinking of morning, Poetry Slow Down, because to me it is a daily miracle, and I know people, close to me, for whom morning is very very hard. Let’s leave it at that—people who don’t get going until noon or later, left to their own devices. So this show is to enquire, with humble curiosity, and joy and vigor, what it is about morning, in our breaking news of poetry that makes the morning last, so says Paul Simon, our show’s theme man. Skiddamarink . . .


Okay, Dr. B, I’m with you so far, but, with all due respect—respect noted, thank you—well, what does morning have to do with journeys and travel? Aha! Thank you for asking, you evolved listening good one! Well, let’s start with an early example of the human mind, looking around this earth of ours, and figuring out what we’re supposed to be doing here. What’s the plan? What’s the idea? And we think of the Sphinx. The big riddle. The tormenter, asking us questions. In Sophocles Oedipus, 5th century B.C., the story goes . . . .


Now, isn’t it interesting that the form of the riddle is taken from the metaphor—poetry alert!—of our human life and of the day. To the earliest minds on earth, the traveler was the sun—we were on foot—and we saw our lives that way, as a journey. In the morning of our lives, we are children: morning is the beginning of a journey that takes an arc to darkness—and yet, the miracle to me of this spinning orb, but we didn’t know it yet then, the same thing happens the next day. Out of darkness, who knew? The sun again! Think not of the first sunrise, but the second sunrise. What that must have been. A revelation. A game changer. We thought it was all over! It’s sort of like the fruit tree in winter. All spring and summer it’s going on, buds, leaves, blossoms, fruit, it’s a success, and then come Fall, the leaves turn golden and red and brown, and suddenly, it’s Shakespeare’s Sonnet 73, “That time of year thou may’st in me behold” –It’s all over. What if we didn’t know spring came again and winter is a time for recharging? We might try to cut our losses and cut it down for firewood. Unless we knew: spring will come again! Resurrection! Well, that’s like morning! Morning turns out to be written about the most of any time of day or season or natural event, with the exception perhaps of spring, with which it is allied: that which comes back, that which is a new beginning. And so our sense of life as a journey, traveling like the sun—perhaps that suggests that we will have life again, and again, and again, and at least, in our every day. So let’s hear Mary Oliver on morning, and we’ll keep morning poetry going. If waking up is hard, this show is for you, the Poetry Slow Down, with Professor Barbara Mossberg, produced by Zappa Johns. Thank you for joining us. Please tune in next week for our show continuing morning, and the topic of angels, and sunsets, because sunrise, sunset, everyday miracles. . .

As Mary Oliver says, “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.”

That’s how I’m thinking of you, Poetry Slow Down, starting the day in happiness, in kindness, knowing that is how you have been with me today, this morning, thank you, thank you, from your Dr. B,, produced by Mr. Z. Rumi says, The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. Don’t go back to sleep. ~Rumi

We’re awake making the morning last! You know how he said, You’re the strange business—us, with the sun in us now—yes, let’s be the strange business today, the poetry in every moment, the transformation from dark to light, and the new day that is possible! I’m Professor Barbara Mossberg, wishing you good morning!

© Barbara Mossberg 2016


With Professor Barbara Mossberg

Produced by Zappa Johns

April 10, 2016

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