A Daybreak Thought for Maria

Here’s a poem by Tennessee Williams that I found in The Collected Poems of Tennessee Williams. Tennessee has been a muse of mine for several years now and I bought the book to add to my TW collection, but I’ll admit I haven’t explored it that much. A few days ago I laid the book on my desk to remind me to spend some time with it. It came with a CD on which TW reads 9 of his poems so I’m going to listen to it soon.

This is one of his shorter poems I found in the book that I really liked. It’s called “A Daybreak Thought for Maria.” It was no doubt written for Maria St. Just, a close friend of TW’s. They met at a party in 1948 and became life-long friends. A few years ago I read a collection of their letters to each other.

At times strained, their relationship was an odd one indeed. Some believe she supplied him with drugs. She was very protective of him and even attempted to push his brother off a balcony once. He pissed her off for only briefly mentioning her in his memoirs. I haven’t read it but I have read that the memoirs aren’t all that true. Maria even made him write a retraction!

Williams named Maria as co-trustee which made her his literary executor since the copyrights of his work were vested in the trust. She denied many scholars access to his papers, showed her temper with biographers by denying permissions Williams had already given when he was alive, and she even demanded to cast and advise actors of his plays.

At first you might think the poem is a warm sentiment for Maria, but he doesn’t mention her in the poem, only in the title. Forget about the title for a moment and it seems Williams is tired of living and wonders why God makes him go through another day.

In the first verse, you think Williams might want to die on this day, but he could just be contemplating death just at any time and not particularly on this day. Maybe in the end he’s thankful for another day and just pays tribute to his friend in the title because he was thinking of her.

A Daybreak Thought for Maria

At daybreak thoughttennessee-williams-and-maria-st-just-havana_orig
I may die
no reason not
nor reason why

Yet still live
moments through
sky now turning
lighter blue

City woke
as if God spoke
“Cities wake
at daybreak.”

Daybreak makes
living wake
and tired move
more to prove

“I live still
ten stories high,
with it moving
still am I”

As if God thought
“Let him go
through at least
one daybreak more.”

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