joyful

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Worm Moon by Mary Oliver

I.
In March the earth remembers its own name.
Everywhere the plates of snow are cracking.
The rivers begin to sing. In the sky
the winter stars are sliding away; new stars
appear as, later, small blades of grain
will shine in the dark fields.

And the name of every place
is joyful.

II.
The season of curiosity is everlasting
and the hour for adventure never ends,
but tonight
even the men who walked upon the moon
are lying content
by open windows
where the winds are sweeping over the fields,
over water,
over the naked earth,
into villages, and lonely country houses, and the vast cities

III.
because it is spring;
because once more the moon and the earth are eloping –
a love match that will bring forth fantastic children
who will learn to stand, walk, and finally run
over the surface of earth;
who will believe, for years,
that everything is possible.

IV.
Born of clay,
how shall a man be holy;
born of water,
how shall a man visit the stars;
born of the seasons,
how shall a man live forever?

V.
Soon
the child of the red-spotted newt, the eft,
will enter his life from the tiny egg.
On his delicate legs
he will run through the valleys of moss
down to the leaf mold by the streams,
where lately white snow lay upon the earth
like a deep and lustrous blanket
of moon-fire,

VI.
and probably
everything
is possible.

it might mean something

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Watering the Stones by Mary Oliver

Every summer I gather a few stones from
the beach and keep them in a glass bowl.
Now and again I cover them with water,
and they drink. There’s no question about
this; I put tinfoil over the bowl, tightly,
yet the water disappears. This doesn’t
mean we ever have a conversation, or that
they have the kind of feelings we do, yet
it might mean something. Whatever the
stones are, they don’t lie in the water
and do nothing.

Some of my friends refuse to believe it
happens, even though they’ve seen it. But
a few others-I’ve seen them walking down
the beach holding a few stones, and they
look at them rather more closely now.
Once in a while, I swear, I’ve even heard
one or two of them saying “Hello.”
Which, I think, does no harm to anyone or
anything, does it?


in happiness

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Hummingbird Pauses at the Trumpet Vine by Mary Oliver

Who doesn’t love
roses, and who
doesn’t love the lilies
of the black ponds

floating like flocks
of tiny swans,
and of course, the flaming
trumpet vine

where the hummingbird comes
like a small green angel, to soak
his dark tongue
in happiness –

and who doesn’t want
to live with the brisk
motor of his heart
singing

like a Schubert
and his eyes
working and working like those days of rapture,
by Van Gogh in Arles?

Look! for most of the world
is waiting
or remembering –
most of the world is time

when we’re not here,
not born yet, or died –
a slow fire
under the earth with all
our dumb wild blind cousins
who also
can’t even remember anymore
their own happiness –

Look! and then we will be
like the pale cool
stones, that last almost
forever.


laugh in astonishment

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Mysteries, Yes by Mary Oliver

Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
to be understood.

How grass can be nourishing in the
mouths of the lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever
in allegiance with gravity
while we ourselves dream of rising.
How two hands touch and the bonds will
never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the
scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.

Let me keep my distance, always, from those
who think they have the answers.

Let me keep company always with those who say
“Look!” and laugh in astonishment,
and bow their heads.


the flowers burn

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A Meeting by Mary Oliver

She steps into the dark swamp
where the long wait ends.

The secret slippery package
drops to the weeds.

She leans her long neck and tongues it
between breaths slack with exhaustion

and after a while it rises and becomes a creature
like her, but much smaller.

So now there are two. And they walk together
like a dream under the trees.

In early June, at the edge of a field
thick with pink and yellow flowers

I meet them.
I can only stare.

She is the most beautiful woman
I have ever seen.

Her child leaps among the flowers,
the blue of the sky falls over me

like silk, the flowers burn, and I want
to live my life all over again, to begin again,

to be utterly
wild.


drowse of creation

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Sometimes by Mary Oliver

1.

Something came up

out of the dark.

It wasn’t anything I had ever seen before.

It wasn’t an animal

   or a flower,

unless it was both.

Something came up out of the water,

   a head the size of a cat

but muddy and without ears.

I don’t know what God is.

I don’t know what death is.

But I believe they have between them

   some fervent and necessary arrangement.

2.

Sometimes

melancholy leaves me breathless.

3.

Later I was in a field of full of sunflowers.

I was feeling the heat of midsummer. 

I was thinking of the sweet, electric

   drowse of creation,

when it began to break.

In the west, clouds gathered.

Thunderheads.

In an hour the sky was filled with them.

In an hour the sky was filled

   with the sweetness of rain and the blast of lightning.

Followed by the deep bells of thunder.

Water from the heavens! Electricity from the source!

Both of them mad to create something!

The lightning brighter than any flower.

The thunder without a drowsy bone in its body.

4.

Instructions for living a life:

Pay attention.

Be astonished.

Tell about it.

5.

Two or three times in my life I discovered love.

Each time it seemed to solve everything.

Each time it solved a great many things

   but not everything.

Yet left me as grateful as if it had indeed, and

thoroughly, solved everything.

6.

God, rest in my heart

and fortify me,

take away my hunger for answers,

let the hours play upon my body

like the hands of my beloved.

Let the cathead appear again-

the smallest of your mysteries,

some wild cousin of my own blood probably-

some cousin of my own wild blood probably,

in the black dinner-bowl of the pond.

7.

Death waits for me, I know it, around

   one corner or another.

This doesn’t amuse me.

Neither does it frighten me.

After the rain, I went back into the field of sunflowers.

It was cool, and I was anything but drowsy.

I walked slowly, and listened

to the crazy roots, in the drenched earth, laughing and growing.


relaxed and easy

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The Sun by Mary Oliver

Have you ever seen
anything
in your life
more wonderful

than the way the sun,
every evening,
relaxed and easy,
floats toward the horizon

and into the clouds or the hills,
or the rumpled sea,
and is gone–
and how it slides again

out of the blackness,
every morning,
on the other side of the world,
like a red flower

streaming upward on its heavenly oils,
say, on a morning in early summer,
at its perfect imperial distance–
and have you ever felt for anything
such wild love–
do you think there is anywhere, in any language,
a word billowing enough
for the pleasure

that fills you,
as the sun
reaches out,
as it warms you

as you stand there,
empty-handed–
or have you too
turned from this world–

or have you too
gone crazy
for power,
for things?


what a prayer is

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Drea Art
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The Summer Day by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?


hints of gladness

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Drea Art
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When I am Among the Trees by Mary Oliver

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”