18 pages 36 minutes read

Joy Harjo

This Morning I Pray for My Enemies

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 2015

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Poem Analysis

Analysis: “This Morning I Pray for My Enemies”

The title and opening line of Harjo’s poem operate as an invitation into the speaker’s point of view. Though the poem never specifies a setting—a clear time and place where the poem transpires—the title helps orient readers to a scene where the speaker is praying in the morning. From there, the first line introduces a philosophical musing: praying for one’s enemies requires knowing who one’s enemies are. The pairing of a simple statement in the title with a broad, introspective question in the first line helps to establish a reflective tone for the poem overall.

“This Morning” is also marked by Harjo’s choice of perspective; the first-person singular is made important even in the title. In addition, Harjo’s use of the present tense amplifies the immediacy of the question posed. The second line of the poem develops the narrative of the poem more explicitly. An enemy, the speaker says, “must be worthy of engagement” (Line 2). This marks a shift in direction from a more confessional self-focused poem into a text more clearly rooted in philosophy. The question of “whom […] I call my enemy” (Line 1) is not just an individual reflection on the speaker’s part but a larger entry point into questions of who an enemy may be for anyone.