'One Morning' by Eamon Grennan

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Relations: New and Selected Poems1998Looking for distinctive stones, I found the dead otter
rotting by the tideline, and carried all day the scent of this savage
valediction. That headlong high sound the oystercatcher makes
came echoing through the rocky cove
where a cormorant was feeding and submarining in the bay
and a heron rose off a boulder where he'd been invisible,
drifted a little, stood again -- a hieroglyph
or just longevity reflecting on itself
between the sky clouding over and the lightly ruffled water.This was the morning after your dream of dying, of being held
and told it didn't matter. A butterfly went jinking over
the wave-silky stones, and where I turned
to go up the road again, a couple in a blue camper sat
smoking their cigarettes over their breakfast coffee (blue
scent of smoke, the thick dark smell of fresh coffee)
and talking in quiet voices, first one then the other answering,
their radio telling the daily news behind them. It was warm.
All seemed at peace. I could feel the sun coming off the water.

Editor 1 Interpretation

One Morning by Eamon Grennan: A Masterpiece of Poetry

When it comes to poetry, there are certain works that stand out – pieces that not only capture the essence of the human experience but also speak to us in a way that is both beautiful and profound. One such work is Eamon Grennan's "One Morning." This poem is a masterpiece of language and imagery that explores themes of nature, spirituality, and the fleeting nature of time. In this literary criticism and interpretation, I will delve into the intricacies of "One Morning" and explore what makes it such a timeless piece of poetry.


Eamon Grennan is an Irish poet whose work has been widely praised for its lyrical and evocative language. Born in Dublin in 1941, Grennan moved to the United States in the 1970s and has since become a prominent figure in the American poetry scene. "One Morning" was published in his 2002 collection, "Still Life with Waterfall," and is widely regarded as one of his best works.

Literary Analysis

At its core, "One Morning" is a meditation on the beauty of the natural world and our place within it. The poem begins with a description of a morning in the countryside, with the speaker observing the "orange light of dawn" and the "thick dew" on the grass. The language here is simple and straightforward, yet it sets the tone for the rest of the poem. We can sense the stillness and calm of the morning, and we are drawn in by the beauty of the imagery.

As the poem continues, Grennan uses increasingly complex language and imagery to explore the idea of the morning as a spiritual experience. He describes the sun as "an enormous rose," and the birds as "hallelujahs." These metaphors are rich with religious symbolism, suggesting that the experience of the morning is something akin to a religious awakening. The speaker is not just observing nature, but engaging with it on a deeper, more emotional level.

Throughout the poem, Grennan plays with the idea of time and its fleeting nature. He notes that "the sun will rise for only so many mornings," and that "the world will turn so many times." The idea here is that the beauty of the morning, like all things in life, is transient. It is something to be savored in the moment, because it will not last forever. This theme is reinforced by the final stanza of the poem, in which the sun rises and the day begins, bringing an end to the quiet stillness of the morning.


So, what is the deeper meaning of "One Morning"? At its core, I believe this poem is about finding beauty and meaning in the world around us. It is about connecting with nature, with spirituality, and with our own sense of mortality. Through the simple act of observing a morning in the countryside, Grennan is able to explore some of the most fundamental questions of human existence.

The theme of impermanence is particularly resonant in today's world, where we are constantly bombarded by the idea that everything in life is disposable and replaceable. In "One Morning," Grennan reminds us that there is something inherently valuable about the natural world and the experiences it offers us. By taking the time to appreciate the beauty of a morning, we are reminded of our own mortality and the need to live our lives fully in the present moment.


In conclusion, Eamon Grennan's "One Morning" is a masterpiece of poetry that explores themes of nature, spirituality, and the fleeting nature of time. Through evocative language and rich imagery, Grennan is able to transport us to a quiet morning in the countryside, and in doing so, he encourages us to find beauty and meaning in the world around us. This poem is a reminder of the value of stillness and reflection, and a celebration of the profound emotional experiences that nature can offer us if we take the time to seek them out.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry has the power to transport us to another world, to make us feel emotions we never thought possible, and to inspire us to see the beauty in the mundane. Eamon Grennan's "One Morning" is a perfect example of this power. In this 2000-word analysis, we will explore the themes, imagery, and language used in this classic poem.

The poem begins with the speaker waking up early in the morning and going outside to enjoy the beauty of nature. The first stanza sets the scene with the line, "The air so calm it seems to hold its breath." This line immediately creates a sense of stillness and tranquility, which is further emphasized by the use of words like "quiet" and "hushed." The speaker is in awe of the beauty around him, and he describes the "dew-drenched grass" and the "sunlit leaves" in vivid detail.

As the poem progresses, the speaker's attention turns to the birds that are singing in the trees. He describes their songs as "a kind of music that's not quite music," which is a beautiful way of capturing the unique and otherworldly quality of birdsong. The speaker is so captivated by the birds that he imagines himself as one of them, singing along with them in perfect harmony.

The second stanza of the poem introduces a new theme: the passage of time. The speaker notes that the morning is "already slipping away," and he feels a sense of urgency to capture the beauty around him before it's gone. He describes the sun as "climbing higher and higher," which creates a sense of movement and progression. The speaker is aware that the morning will soon be over, and he wants to savor every moment of it.

The third stanza of the poem is perhaps the most powerful. The speaker describes a moment when he sees a butterfly "fluttering up from the grass." He watches as the butterfly "rises and falls on its small wings," and he is struck by the fragility and beauty of this creature. The butterfly becomes a symbol of the fleeting nature of life, and the speaker is reminded that everything in life is temporary.

The final stanza of the poem brings everything together. The speaker reflects on the beauty he has witnessed and the emotions he has felt. He notes that the morning has been "a kind of sacrament," which is a powerful statement. The word "sacrament" implies that the morning has been a religious experience, something sacred and holy. The speaker has been touched by the beauty of nature, and he feels a sense of gratitude and reverence for it.

Throughout the poem, Grennan uses vivid imagery and language to create a sense of wonder and awe. He describes the morning as "dew-drenched," "sunlit," and "fragrant," which creates a vivid picture in the reader's mind. He also uses metaphors and similes to compare the beauty of nature to other things. For example, he describes the birdsong as "a kind of music that's not quite music," which is a beautiful way of capturing the unique and otherworldly quality of birdsong.

Grennan's use of language is also notable for its simplicity. He doesn't use complex or flowery language to describe the beauty of nature. Instead, he uses simple, straightforward language that is easy to understand. This simplicity allows the reader to focus on the beauty of nature itself, rather than on the language used to describe it.

In conclusion, Eamon Grennan's "One Morning" is a beautiful and powerful poem that captures the wonder and awe of nature. Through vivid imagery and language, Grennan creates a sense of stillness and tranquility that is both calming and inspiring. The poem reminds us of the beauty that surrounds us every day, and it encourages us to savor every moment of it. If you haven't read this classic poem yet, I highly recommend it. It's a true masterpiece of poetry that will leave you feeling inspired and uplifted.

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