“On the Pulse of Morning” features a third-person speaker who orients the reader to a better future by offering a broad historical perspective. The speaker’s historical perspective ranges from the far-distant past of the dinosaurs to the more recent history of the United States, from colonial times to the present. In particular, the speaker focuses their attention on U.S. history, emphasizing forms of violence perpetrated against Indigenous and Black people. The speaker foregrounds these aspects of U.S. history not simply to unsettle the reader, but to encourage us to recognize how the past shapes the present. By emphasizing the less savory parts of U.S. history, the speaker ultimately hopes to empower the reader to imagine a future that will be less burdened by past traumas. They make this point clearly at the end of the ninth stanza (lines 74–76):

     History, despite its wrenching pain
     Cannot be unlived, but if faced
     With courage, need not be lived again.

The speaker’s evident desire to help us readers orient ourselves to a brighter future indicates their concern for the well-being of the United States and all the people who live there.

Although the speaker focuses on matters related to human history, they also give voice to nonhuman perspectives. Throughout the poem, the speaker ventriloquizes three nonhuman entities: the Rock, the River, and the Tree. Each of these entities has a turn to address the reader directly, making each of them temporary speakers. Like the poem’s main speaker, these temporary speakers are invested in drawing the reader’s attention to history. However, since the Rock, the River, and the Tree are all nonhumans, they have a unique perspective on humans as a species. From their point of view, issues that commonly create divisions among humans—for example, race and nationality—are arbitrary and ultimately meaningless. The River suggests as much in the sixth stanza (lines 26–31):

     Each of you, a bordered country,
     Delicate and strangely made proud,
     Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.
     Your armed struggles for profit
     Have left collars of waste upon
     My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.

According to the River, humans are “strangely made proud” by the arbitrary matters that separate them. This pride leads to conflict and, in this case, to environmental damage. By adopting the point of view of nonhumans like the River, the poem’s main speaker encourages us human readers to focus on what unites us rather than on what separates us.