Welcome Morning (by Anne Sexton)
There is joy
in the hair I brush each morning,
in the Cannon towel, newly washed,
that I rub my body with each morning,
in the chapel of eggs I cook
in the outcry from the kettle
that heats my coffee
in the spoon and the chair
that cry “hello there, Anne”
in the godhead of the table
that I set my silver, plate, cup upon
All this is God,
right here in my pea-green house
and I mean,
though often forget,
to give thanks,
to faint down by the kitchen table
in a prayer of rejoicing
as the holy birds at the kitchen window
peck into their marriage of seeds.
So while I think of it,
let me paint a thank-you on my palm
for this God, this laughter of the morning,
lest it go unspoken.
The joy that isn’t shared, I’ve heard,
Poet Roger Housden shares these words about this poem that summarize it so well, better than I could…
What a glorious ode to the beauty of the everyday Anne Sexton gives us in this poem. I believe that the fact that it was written not long before her suicide in 1974 only adds to its power and poignancy. Sexton suffered from mental illness all her life and was not afraid to explore it and other intimately personal details in her poetry, which set the standard for the modern movement of confessional poetry that began at that time.
This poem shows how intimate Sexton could feel at times with the daily presentations, as Mary Oliver calls the little details of our life. Everything has a life of its own, even the hairbrush and the kettle and the chair we sit on for breakfast each morning. When we feel the life that pours through everything, then joy is the spontaneous and natural result, and we can sense that all this is God. In that moment of remembrance our life itself becomes a prayer of gratitude.