"For the Bird Singing before Dawn" by Kim Stafford

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April 27, 2022 

For the Bird Singing before Dawn

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.”

Copyright © 2022 by Kim Stafford. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 27, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

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“Many times in my life I’ve been told by serious people that I must be very naïve to be happy, to have hope, to celebrate this little life I’ve been given when, actually, they say, everything is pretty dire. There’s war, poverty, crushing injustice all over—what right do I have to talk back to all that with flimsy little poems about the good? What can I say? The birds are my teachers, my elders, my guides. Every day before dawn, in silence and darkness, I’m at my desk making poems on the page. And then, before light, I hear the first bird outside begin to sing.”
Kim Stafford

Kim Stafford is the author of Singer Come from Afar (Red Hen Press, 2021). From 2018 to 2020, he served as the poet laureate of Oregon, where he currently resides.
Singer Come from Afar
(Red Hen Press, 2021)

“Hope is a Bruise” by Dasha Kelly Hamilton
read more

“Storm Psalm” by David Baker
read more

Thanks to Naomi Shihab Nye, author of Cast Away: Poems for Our Time (Greenwillow Books, 2021), who curated Poem-a-Day for this month’s weekdays. Listen to a Q&A about Nye’s curatorial approach and find out more about our guest editors for the year.
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