A Birthday Poem

In the poem, Ted Kooser gives another touch of his abiding interest in the versatility of life. He compares the rise and set of the sun with the cycle of life. He emphasizes on cherishing the moments and memories with life with a touch of nostalgia.

A Birthday Poem


Just past dawn, the sun stands
with its heavy red head
in a black stanchion of trees,
waiting for someone to come
with his bucket
for the foamy white light,
and then a long day in the pasture.
I too spend my days grazing,
feasting on every green moment
till darkness calls,
and with the others
I walk away into the night,
swinging the little tin bell
of my name.

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Analysis of Kooser’s “A Birthday Poem”

In this poem, Ted Kooser portrays a vivid comparison of life to a single day. He uses sunrise as his first example to compare the creation of a new life and its celebration of existence with each passing of the year with the most scenic time of the day when the sun rises with a new ray of hope.

He then compares the sun with an animal, which is probably a cow or a goat to resemble its grazing in the pastures waiting to gather daylight instead of milk, although the sun is its own head. This comparison turns the poem into a comparison where the poet is highlighting the significance of an animal in the poem, deeply.

In the poem, Kooser gives a brilliant analogy about how we, human beings, wander through the field of life experiencing the versatile moments and gathering different experiences in life, comparing the phenomenon with that of the grazing of animals in the field searching for food and life.

Kooser decides to put the main theme of his poem in the very end. He ends the poem with a picturesque description of a universal truth; the inevitable setting of the sun, comparing it with death. The main learning that Kooser wanted to preach in the poem is that no matter who we are, or what we do, someday or the other, we have to leave this life, and go to a journey to the unknown.

The only thing that will be left of us is what we did while we were alive and the impact we made in life. Our names, the people we leave behind will be the ones that will keep us among the heart of everything and everyone. The poet compares life’s transition with that of the journey of the sun.

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