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Friday, 14 October 2011

Comes The Dawn - A poem by Joy Whitman

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I first read this poem
when my English teacher handed it to me at the end of a class.  He took me aside and told me: " I want to have a student read this poem to the class next week, and I think you are the only one who can read poetry correctly, but it's very powerful and I wanted to give you time to read it first, so that you can get used to it first".

I took the page from him and stuffed it in my binder.  Later that evening I broke it out and started to read.

Comes the Dawn by Joy Whitman

After awhile you learn the subtle difference between holding a hand and sharing a life
You learn that love doesn't mean possession, company doesn't mean security 
And loneliness is universal

You learn that kisses aren't contracts and presents aren't promises
And you begin to accept your defeats with your head up and your eyes open 
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child

You learn to build your hopes on today
As the future has a way of falling apart mid-flight
And tomorrow's ground can be too uncertain for plans
Yet each step taken in a new direction creates a path toward the promise of a brighter dawn.

You learn that even sunshine burns if you get too much
So you plant your own garden and nourish your own soul
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers

You learn that love, true love always has joys and sorrows
Seems ever present, yet is never quite the same
Becoming more than love and less than love
So difficult to define

And you learn that through it all that you really can endure
That you really are strong, that you do have value
And you learn and grow, with every goodbye
You learn

I can't tell you how much I appreciated being given the chance to read it privately first.  I was 16 years old, and going through a very difficult break-up with my first... well you know.  Warm tears streamed down my face as the full truth of this poem hit home. (I know, there's a theme developing one me balling... what can I say, I'm a real cry baby)

It does me good to revisit it now and then; it's food for the soul, and sometimes I forget the lessons it teaches.  
Much Love, 


  1. Beautiful Hunny! It made me cry too.

  2. Two years ago I was writing something...and what you've placed here makes me remind just that post...
    "Secret folds are in our soul, where there’s no distinction between huge and small, beautiful or ugly, something more or less important. Sometimes, they stretch, letting the coloured untidy shadows of our dreams or dark ceilings memories slip away…
    The strident logic of enormous thinking machines, with two arms and hands, has always preferred to set them in the night sleep, or in some jester’s oddness not telling the truth.
    Others times, however, they own the hurry of an exciting discovery, made by patterns and affections, past and origins; the reason humility isn’t always enough to allow it a space. Better to imprison them through feelings, running over the body without breath, harboured in small caves, not recognizable, almost lost, misunderstood traces, the symptons"
    Bye and thanks Felicia, I love this man (Withman) and this poem.

  3. That's beautiful Ermanno! Glad to have you on board, thanks so much for following! :)

  4. Facebook comments:

    Ermanno Gioacchini likes this.

    Sarah Taylor
    I have also loved this poem since high school english class! Another fav of mine is Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou. :)
    Friday at 7:43am · Like

    Barbara Emiliana Bianchi
    Wonderful.... just what I needed !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you :)
    Friday at 11:29am · Like · 1 person

    Felicia Stevenson Thank you ladies!
    Saturday at 2:26pm · Like · 1 person

  5. I love this poem...well, I should say I love the ORIGINAL POEM which is entitled "After a While" and was written and copyrighted in 1971 by Veronica Shoffstall. Joy Whitman apparently changed a few words in the poem so she could rename it "Comes the Dawn", but in essence, this is Veronica Shoffstall's poem. It has been in my keeping since long before the 1987 date which is supposed to be when Joy Whitman had "Comes the Dawn" copyrighted. But it is not Joy Whitman's is Veronica Shoffstall's.

    1. Looks like maybe Joy Whitman did a new translation?

      This poem reminds me of my all time favorite poem, "Wild Geese" by Mary Oliver.

      It's the kind of poem where I can read just one line and savor it all day, thinking about what it means to me and letting it bring me closer to who I really am under all this learning and socialization.

      Thanks for posting it!

  6. My mother sent me this poem about 30 years ago after a sad break up. I still have the poem today that she had cut from a magazine or newspaper. It helped me through a tough time and is one of my favorite poems.

  7. It has helped me throughout the years as well. I had heard at some point that I may have the wrong author's name, but it was introduced to me as being by joy Whitman. I should post an update about this one of these days!

    Thank you for commenting, hope to see around here again some day soon!

  8. My Sister n Law, gave me a copy of this poem when my marriage ended because I was crushed. After ten years the words hit home even more now then ten years ago. Took me ten years to decide to plant my own garden, without yearning for the flowers.

  9. plagiarism... this poem was written by Jorge Luis Borges (Argentinian poet) at the turn of the century. it is shameful that people do not have their own inspiration and have to translate poems to get notoriety. here it is in Spanish.

    Despues de Un Tiempo .... Jorge Luis Borges.

    ...Después de un tiempo uno aprende la sutil diferencia entre
    sostener una mano y encadenar un alma;
    y uno aprende que el amor no significa acostarse
    y que una compañía no significa seguridad
    y uno empieza a aprender...

    Que los besos no son contratos y los regalos no son promesas
    y uno empieza a aceptar sus derrotas con la
    cabeza alta y los ojos abiertos
    y uno aprende a construir todos sus caminos en el hoy
    porque el terreno de mañana es demasiado inseguro para planes...
    y los futuros tienen una forma de caerse en la mitad.

    Y después de un tiempo uno aprende que si es demasiado
    hasta el calor del sol quema.
    Así que uno planta su propio jardín y decora su propia alma en lugar de esperar a que alguien le traiga flores.

    Y uno aprende que realmente puede aguantar
    que uno realmente es fuerte
    que uno realmente vale
    y uno aprende
    y aprende... y con cada día uno aprende.

    Con el tiempo aprendes que estar con alguien porque te ofrece un buen futuro
    significa que tarde o temprano querrás volver a tu pasado.
    Con el tiempo comprendes que sólo quien es capaz de
    amarte con tus defectos
    sin pretender cambiarte
    puede brindarte toda la felicidad que deseas.

    Con el tiempo te das cuenta de que
    si estás al lado de esa persona sólo por acompañar tu soledad
    irremediablemente acabarás deseando no volver a verla.

    Con el tiempo entiendes que los verdaderos amigos son contados
    y que el que no lucha por ellos tarde o temprano
    se verá rodeado sólo de amistades falsas.

    Con el tiempo aprendes que las palabras dichas en un
    momento de ira
    pueden seguir lastimando a quien heriste
    durante toda la vida.

    Con el tiempo aprendes que disculpar cualquiera lo hace
    pero perdonar es sólo de almas grandes.
    Con el tiempo comprendes que si has herido a un amigo duramente
    muy probablemente la amistad jamás volverá a ser igual.

    Con el tiempo te das cuenta de que aunque seas feliz
    con tus amigos
    algún día llorarás por aquellos que dejaste ir.

    Con el tiempo te das cuenta de que cada experiencia
    vivida con cada persona es irrepetible.

    uno aprende..y uno aprende
    y aprende...con cada día uno aprende...

  10. Well this is certainly news to me but whoever wrote it, it's beautiful and every woman should hear it at least once in her life.

  11. Or maybe it's shameful to attribute sinister motives to something that might have been just a misunderstanding? I'd rather imagine that just as it was mistakenly attributed to Joy Whitman, it may also mistakenly have been attributed to Veronica Schoffstall.

    But thank you for letting us know who the author is. I found a framed copy of this poem in a thrift store that attributes the poem to Schoffstall. I'm glad I learned today about the original in Spanish! I think I'll put the original on the back so I can always refer to it and maybe read it and look up words. I know very little Spanish. :) It's a beautiful, hard, real poem. I love it. I'll definitely look into more translations of Jorge Louis Borges' work.