Morning Poem by Mary Oliver Summary, Notes and Line by Line Explanation in English for Students


The poem “Morning Poem” is written by Mary Oliver. The poem talks about the inherent connection between the natural world and human beings. She first published this poem in her collection “Dream Work” in 1986. The poem explores the themes of appreciating the beauty of nature. The poet looks at morning as a symbol of new beginnings and talks about appreciating all the small things present in nature. She says that every new morning is a new beginning that harbors within itself endless new possibilities of life.

About the poet

Mary Jane Oliver was born in 1935 in Ohio, United States. She was a poet. She wrote poems with the themes of nature. She was a recipient of multiple awards for her poetry including the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1984 and the Nation Book Award in the year 1992. She was hailed as the best-selling poet in 2007. She has written and published around 20 poetry collections and 6 prose works. Some of her notable works include “The Summer Day” and “When Death Comes”


The poem is written in free-verse. It contains 9 stanzas, each stanza is a quatrain.

Stanza 1

Every morning

the world

is created.

Under the orange


In the beginning the speaker talks about how the world is created anew every morning. The mention of “orange” suggests the warm colors of the sunrise. The speaker encourages us to notice this daily process of renewal that happens with each new day.


In this stanza the poet reflects on the daily renewal of the world every morning. The simple yet profound statement, “Every morning the world is created,” sets the tone for the poem. The mention of “orange” suggests the warm and vibrant hues of the morning sun. The poet invites readers to witness the continuous act of creation that occurs with the dawn of each new day. The poem celebrates the beauty and freshness inherent in the morning, capturing the essence of a world being born anew in the glow of the rising sun.

Stanza 2

sticks of the sun

the heaped

ashes of the night

turn into leaves again


The speaker in these lines described how in the morning, the world comes to life. As the sun rises, its rays break through, turning the leftover darkness of the night into a fresh start. The remnants of the night transform into leaves, signaling a renewal and rebirth. 


In these lines the poet vividly portrays the transformative nature of morning. The “sticks of the sun” suggest the first rays of sunlight breaking through, dispelling the darkness of the night. The phrase “heaped ashes of the night” describes the remnants of darkness fading away as the night transitions into day. The imagery of these ashes turning into leaves evokes a sense of rebirth and renewal, emphasizing the cyclical and regenerative quality of each new morning.

Stanza 3

and fasten themselves to the high branches–

and the ponds appear

like black cloth

on which are painted islands


The speaker says that in the morning, the leaves, created from the ashes of the night, attach themselves to the high branches of trees. The ponds look like dark fabric with painted islands. This creates a serene and beautiful picture of nature coming to life with the light of day. She uses simple language to vividly describe the transformation of the landscape, giving a sense of tranquility and natural beauty.


The poet talks about how as the morning progresses, the leaves created from the night’s ashes fasten themselves onto the high branches of trees. She describes the ponds as resembling black cloth, serving as canvases with painted islands. This imagery suggests a tranquil and picturesque scene where nature, in its awakening, takes on vibrant forms. The simple yet vivid language used by the poet paints a visual picture of the landscape as it transforms with the arrival of daylight. The depiction of ponds as black cloth adorned with painted islands adds a touch of enchantment to the description, evoking a sense of natural beauty and serenity.

Stanza 4

of summer lilies.

If it is your nature

to be happy

you will swim away along the soft trails


If you’re naturally a happy person, these lines suggest you’ll navigate life’s paths with joy, much like swimming among summer lilies. The speaker paints a picture of happiness as a harmonious part of your nature, flowing through life with grace.


In these lines, the poet suggests that if it is in your nature to be happy, you will move joyfully along the soft trails of life, akin to swimming away among the summer lilies. The imagery invokes a sense of natural happiness, aligning one’s disposition with the beauty and ease of nature. The act of swimming suggests a fluid and graceful movement through life, emphasizing the idea that happiness can be a harmonious and intrinsic part of one’s being. The poet conveys a positive outlook, emphasizing the connection between one’s nature and the potential for joy in the journey of life.

Stanza 5

for hours, your imagination

alighting everywhere.

And if your spirit

carries within it


The lines suggest that if your spirit is imbued with a sense of imagination, it can roam freely for hours, alighting on various thoughts and ideas. The speaker emphasizes the expansive and boundless nature of an imaginative spirit, highlighting the capacity to explore and dwell on numerous possibilities.


The poet encourages the idea that a spirit filled with imagination has the potential to wander extensively, exploring a myriad of thoughts and scenarios. This wandering is portrayed as a liberating and fulfilling experience, where one’s imagination can alight on different ideas, much like a bird hopping from branch to branch. The emphasis on the soft trails and the freedom to swim away suggests a sense of ease and joy in the exploration of imaginative realms.

Stanza 6

the thorn

that is heavier than lead–

if it’s all you can do

to keep on trudging–


The speaker talks about a heavy burden represented by a thorn, even heavier than lead. This burden makes the journey forward a challenging trudge. The imagery conveys the idea of facing difficulties and obstacles that weigh heavily on the individual. The speaker acknowledges the struggle of persisting and moving forward despite the burdens one carries.


The poet introduces the image of a thorn, emphasizing its weight, which is described as heavier than lead. This thorn symbolizes a burden or obstacle that feels overwhelming and difficult to bear. The act of “trudging” suggests a persistent, laborious effort to move forward despite the weight of this metaphorical thorn. The lines convey a sense of hardship and resilience, acknowledging the challenges one might face that make the journey forward a struggle. It speaks to the perseverance required when confronted with burdensome obstacles on the path of life.

Stanza 7

there is still

somewhere deep within you

a beast shouting that the earth

is exactly what it wanted–


The speaker is describing a deep connection within a person, like an inner beast, that passionately declares satisfaction with the Earth. This suggests a fundamental alignment with the world, even in the face of challenges or burdens. The imagery portrays a strong connection and a primal, instinctual fulfillment.


The poet speaks about an inner essence within an individual, likened to a beast, that passionately declares the Earth to be precisely what it desired. This suggests a primal, instinctual connection to the world, an elemental alignment with one’s surroundings. Despite the hardships or burdens mentioned earlier, these lines celebrate an innate sense of fulfillment and alignment with the fundamental desires of existence. The imagery implies a profound connection to the Earth, resonating with a primal, inner voice.

Stanza 8

each pond with its blazing lilies

is a prayer heard and answered


every morning,


The speaker describes how each pond, filled with bright lilies, is like a prayer that is not only heard but generously answered every morning. It portrays a sense of divine acknowledgment and abundance in response to the beauty of nature. The repetition of “every morning” emphasizes the regularity of this spiritual connection with the natural world.


In these lines, the poet conveys a sense of divine responsiveness to nature’s beauty. Each pond, adorned with vibrant lilies, is likened to a prayer that is not only heard but extravagantly answered. The repetition of “every morning” emphasizes the consistent and renewing nature of this divine response to the beauty of the world. The imagery paints a picture of a world where the profound and delicate elements of nature are acknowledged and met with abundance.

Stanza 9

whether or not

you have ever dared to be happy,

whether or not

you have ever dared to pray.


The speaker is talking about happiness and prayer. She asks if you’ve ever dared to be happy or dared to pray, emphasizing the idea of courage and choice in these experiences. It’s like a reflection on whether you’ve taken the bold step to embrace joy and engage in spiritual moments, regardless of any challenges or societal expectations.


The poet explores the idea of happiness and prayer, posing questions about whether the reader has ever dared to experience happiness or engage in prayer. This reflects on the personal choices and courage one might need to embrace joy and spirituality. The use of “dared” suggests that these experiences may require overcoming fears or societal inhibitions. The lines invite reflection on one’s emotional and spiritual journey, prompting the reader to consider their own relationship with happiness and prayer, emphasizing the element of personal choice and courage in these pursuits.