Every morning all year round I can see the sunrise. It’s a sight that is hard to get used to. Not that it is surprising, for of course I know that the sun rises every morning, and that its light makes the darkness yield, but rather because it happens in so many different ways, and perhaps most importantly that it feels so fundamentally good. The feeling is a little like taking a hot bath when one is feeling chilly, satisfaction that the body is somehow restored to its basic state. When the basic state has been re-established, the satisfaction disappears, we rarely think about the fact that our body temperature is perfectly regulated. The same is the case with the sunrise. It isn’t the light in itself that feels good, for once it’s here, say, at around 2.30 in the afternoon, we take it for granted. What matters is the actual transition. Not the light from the immobile sun, which shoots across the horizon as the earth’s sphere turns towards it, but the faint glow cast by this light in the minutes before, visible as a pale streak in the darkness of night, so faint it almost doesn’t seem to be light at all, merely a kind of enfeebling of the darkness. How this infinitely subtle, dim, grey-marbled gleam slowly spreads out and imperceptibly enters the garden around me, where the trees and the walls of the houses just as slowly emerge. If the sky is clear, it turns blue in the east, and then the first beams of sunlight shoot forth, bright orange. At first it is as if they are just showing off and don’t have any other attributes than this colour, but the next moment, when the rays plummet in vast chutes across the landscape, they show their true qualities, filling the landscape with colours and brightness. If the sky isn’t clear but overcast, all this happens as if by stealth: the trees and the house emerge from the darkness, which vanishes, and the landscape fills with colour and brightness but without the source of this transformation being visible as anything more than an area of greater luminosity in the sky, sometimes round, if the cloud cover is thin, sometimes indeterminate, when it seems as if the clouds themselves are shining. Through this phenomenon, which occurs every single day of our lives, we also understand ourselves…light represents life and goodness, these two transitional zones between night and day become manifestations of the great existential drama we are caught up in, which is something I rarely think about as I stand in the garden gazing towards the growing light in the east, but which must still resonate in me somehow, since watching it feels so good…Light and life are anomalies, the dawn is their continual affirmation.

~ Karl Ove Knausgaard,, excerpt from “Dawn” in Chapter titled “November” from “Autumn


  • Photo: Dawn by Tim Messer (Dawn. Shot while listening to Black Grouse, bubbling in the hills above Callander, Stirlingshire in Scotland)
  • Related Posts: Karl Ove Knausgaard


  1. How I love his writing, and nod enthusiastically as I read this. Yes, I nod, yes, yes, yes…

    Liked by 3 people

  2. oh, i love this so much. my favorite time of day, perfectly described.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t know much about him. The only thing I read for him was that long essay on brain surgery. Is it the same guy?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. roseanne333 says:

    I loved this, David. Dawn is my most favorite time. “Light and life are anomalies, the dawn is their continual affirmation.” Beautiful share.
    Happy weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. beautiful realization….

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Such a beautiful awakening this morning! Thanks for the sunshine – here in our cloudy skies.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Of course. It’s the payoff for getting up in the dark. And, so worth it.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Read this shimmering paean to the dawn, then watched the sun dust the clouds with a soft salmon hue as it slowly mounted the clouds to its proper place in the sky. Knausgaard describes the transition so eloquently. Just love this….

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Love his writing and this is no exception. Thanks for sharing, David.

    Liked by 1 person

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