18 pages 36 minutes read

Joy Harjo

This Morning I Pray for My Enemies

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 2015

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Symbols & Motifs

The Sun

The sun is mentioned twice in “This Morning I Pray for My Enemies” and serves as a key physical symbol for the philosophical point made in the poem. In the first reference, the sun is what the speaker turns towards before continuing to walk. This physical “turn” (Line 3) creates a narrative shift where the speaker begins thinking about their own heart and mind rather than their enemies. The sun, in this sense, could represent a light of introspection—a place one aims to go.

In the fifth line, this concept is enhanced through the metaphorical use of the sun. Harjo describes the heart as “the smaller cousin of the sun” (Line 5). By repeating the image of the sun, Harjo reinforces the idea that the speaker’s compass is sun-related, whether the heart or the sun itself. In a poem with few physical images, the sun shines, literally and figuratively, as a beacon for both speaker and reader in pursuing greater understanding.

The Heart and The Mind

In the middle of the poem, Harjo moves from the dominating question of enemies to explore the relationship between a person’s heart and mind. These two parts of the body are imagined as key representative aspects of the human experience.