Monday, March 28, 2011

Songs to the Morning Sun

"The Way to Start a Day"

The way to start a day is this --
Go outside and face the east and greet the sun
with some kind of blessing or chant or song
that you made yourself and keep for early morning.
The way to make a song is this --
Don't try to think what words to use
until you're standing there alone.
When you feel the sun
you'll feel the song, too.
Just sing it.

But don't think you're the only one who ever
   worked that magic.
Your caveman brothers knew what to do.
Your cavewoman sisters knew, too.
They sang to help the sun come up.
And lifted their hands to its power.
A morning needs to be sung to.

A new day needs to be honored.
People have always known that.
Didn't they chant at dawn in the sun temples of
And leap and sway to Aztec flutes in Mexico?
And drum sunrise songs in the Congo?
And ring a thousand small gold bells in China?
Didn't the pharaohs of Egypt say the only sound at
should be the sound of songs that please the
   morning sun?
They knew what songs to sing.
People always seem to know.

And everywhere they knew what gifts the sun
In some places they gave gold.
In some places they gave flowers.
In some places, sacred smoke blown to the four
Some places, feathers and good thoughts.
Some places, fire.
But everywhere they knew to give something.

And everywhere they knew to turn their faces
as the sun came up.
Some people still know.
When the first pale streak of light cuts through the
wherever they are,
those people make offerings
and send mysterious strong songs to the sun.
They know exactly how to start a day.

Their blessings float on the wind over Pueblo
in New Mexico, and you hear their morning songs
in the villages in Africa,
and they salute the sunrise ceremonially
in the high cold mountains of Peru.
Today long before dawn
they were already waiting in Japan with prayers
and they were gathering at little shrines in India
with marigolds in their hands.

They were bathing in the sacred Ganges river as
   the sun came up.
And high on a mesa in Arizona
they were holding a baby toward the sun.
They were speaking the child's new name
so the sun would hear and know that child.
It had to be sunrise.
And it had to be that first sudden moment.
That's when all the power of life is in the sky.

Some people say there is a new sun every day,
that it begins its life at dawn
and lives for one day only.
They say you have to welcome it.
You have to make the sun happy.
You have to make a good day for it.
You have to make a good world for it
to live its one-day life in.

And the way to start, they say,
is just by looking east at dawn.
When they look east tomorrow,
you can too.
Your song will be an offering --
   and you'll be one more person
in one more place
at one more time in the world
saying hello to the sun,
letting it know you are there.

If the sky turns a color sky never was before
just watch it.
That's part of the magic.
That's the way to start a day.

~ Byrd Baylor

Happy Birthday to Byrd Baylor, born March 28, 1924. She lives in Arizona and creates children's books based on her love of the Southwest.

The photograph at the top is mine.


  1. Good poet and a lovely lady ...

  2. Happy Monday and happy day to you, what a happy poem.

  3. This is very beautiful; I love the thought of singing a song for a new day, of honouring each new day this way. I am often see a new day wake, a most special time of the day.

  4. Good morning on Tuesday, Teresa! I missed this yesterday, but I wanted to say thank you for it! Hugs...

  5. "A new day is to be honored. People have always known that." Truer words were never spoken. Thanks for reminding me.

  6. Lovely thoughts, I get up early most days to watch for a nice sunrise. It makes my day more wholesome.

  7. This is such a lovely poem!!! I loved it.

  8. This poem has a lot of wisdom in its lines...

  9. Thank you, each one of you, for reading and commenting. Whenever I see something I need to be reminded of, I feel perhaps others might, as well. I'm an early riser, but being really present to that moment of sunrise and honoring each new day feels like a good thing to remember.

  10. Welcome sunrise
    Breath it in and exhale
    And follow the path.

  11. Teresa,
    Each day I awake and see the morning sun, I know I am blessed to have another day and new adventures.
    great post!

  12. Paul, Thank you!

    Tracy, To New Adventures!

  13. I just loved this poem! I will think of the morning sun in a whole new light from now on. Pun intended :-)

  14. Hi Cheryl, It inspired me, too.

    good pun.

  15. One of my favorites: Begin with the sun and all else shall follow. -- DH Lawrence

  16. I think that I've collected all of Byrd Baylor's illustrated children's books. Love 'em.

  17. Hi Kate, My introduction was through, When Clay Sings, which I bought for my younger son on a trip west.

  18. A beautiful lady and a beautiful poem.

    Do you remember, "Good morning, sunshine. How are you today?"

  19. Kittie, I so love this poem. What an amazing woman to bring these thoughts forth and especially in a way that can reach all age groups.

    I don't recall that poem, but will check it out. Thanks, Kittie.