Completely Subjective: Charles Simic’s “So Early in the Morning”

Published in The Paris Review of Fall 2013 Charles Simic’s “So Early in the Morning” shows Simic’s emotion and reaction to the recent passing of friend. Simic was born in Yugoslavia and emigrated to the United States as a teenager. He spent the first eleven years of his life living through World War II and uses his experiences to compose poems about the physical and spiritual poverty of modern life. He says the inspiration for this poem is about his many friends passing away in recent years. When I first read this poem it stood out to me more than any of the other poems I had read because of its interesting first stanza which made me intrigued to read the rest of the poem.

This poem stood out to me more than others in the 2015 BAP volume because it described the death of a close friend or loved one. I have never experienced death on a personal level in my life and this poem shows the grief of someone who has recently lost a loved one. Simic is depicting “a friend at death’s door” as someone close to him who is about to die, this is the main idea for the rest of the poem. How life is “cruel and beautiful” at the same time. The cruel part is at the end, when life is over and you have lived out your full life. The beauty is all the stuff between birth and death, all the things you do in life and everything you become as a human of society is the beauty of life itself.

This idea that Simic displays is one that I have not experienced yet in my lifetime, which gives me a disadvantage when making a personal connection to the deeper meaning of this poem. I am very close with my family and a death of anyone would be a large loss in my life, just like how Simic shows how he feels about the death of his good friend.

Simic displays the idea about “life being both cruel and beautiful” in this poem. He gives examples contrasting the two within society. He shows the beauty of life as “a dog free from his chain”, which I believe is saying that the dog can now roam free and explore everything and anything he wants to. On the flip side he explains the cruelty of life by describing the dog “searching through a neighbor’s trash can”. This contrasting life idea that Simic uses enables the reader to understand the separate sides of life.

I believe that things happen for a reason in life, whether it be for better or for worse. And that the things we experience over a lifetime are memories that people cherish. Simic’s friend is “at death’s door” which makes him think of “the memory of the night we spent together”. Memories are the history of someone’s life, everything they experience and do becomes a memory. People sometimes get angry or upset at the world and blame it for a tragedy or bad occurrence. But something that Simic keys in on is how after the death of his friend he remembered all the memories of the good times with that person, and how “[he] had so much love in [his] heart afterward”. This proves how Simic views the world and how his reaction to death brought him joyful memories and love.

The passing of close friends and family usually takes a big toll on people’s lives because they have to adjust to life without them. This intensifies life and usually is a very emotional period in people’s lives. Going through grief and struggling to move on from the death of someone who matters to you. Within Simic’s “So Early in the Morning” he displays emotion and confidence that people would “understand [his] madness” about losing someone he loved. He turned an overwhelming experience into a way of showing how society views life. Between seeing the beauty and cruelty of life Simic comes to the realization that life moves on and all that remains of his “friend at death’s door” are memories and love.


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