They’re here again, those mornings with soft light breaking at dawn, hanging on for endless moments before burning its way into the day. I have always loved to sit out and watch the sun rise, more so than to watch it set. When I lived as a night owl I would stay up to watch a sunrise before going to bed; when I worked shifts I missed being available for either the rising or the setting sun. Such magic must be observed. There are enough days in a life without it.
The light available before sunrise seems to grow as if it were alive. Not only does it expand to fill space, it often seems to diffuse and enter into all the solid matter and for a short time gives the material world a spiritual essence. This is what makes the music of classical Indian music, especially the ragas written for this time of day, so moving for me. I have gotten into the habit of spending the time between the first coffee and a solid breakfast in meditation and contemplation. Once I used to do so with music playing, ragas or streams of Celtic instrumentations. Nowadays, unless a great number of irritations are present, I prefer the silence and the natural rhythms of birds and winds, and even the hum of traffic may blend in.
And then there’s the poetry. Since medieval times songs and words have been written for and about this time of day. Even in today’s English verse a lyrical poem about dawn, whether in praise or about love, with joy or pain or contemplation, is known as an aubade (from the French and Provençal). At times I write a poem directly influenced by one specific sunrise, but recently I was nosing around some of my earlier work, both published and unpublished, and marveled at how often the sunrise in one way or another influenced my poetry. Even without specific mention of the time of day, I could feel the serene effect through the images used. I had been writing aubades even before I understood what they were.
I continue to write poems under the influence of the rising sun. Sometimes they remain compact as haiku or tanka. Sometimes the imagery becomes incorporated in something other. And sometimes it becomes a complete lyrical expression of praise and contentment in and of itself.