BY MARY OLIVER
In this book
there are many hummingbirds~
the blue-throated, the bumblebee, the calliope,
the cinnamon, the lucifer, and of coarse
Well, that’s all you can do.
For they’re swift as the wind
and they fly, not across the pages but,
like many shy and otherworldly things,
I know you’ll keep looking now that I’ve told you.
I’m hungry to see them too, but I can’t
hold them back even for a moment, they’re
busy, as all things are, with their own lives.
So all I can do is let you know
they’re here somewhere.
All I can do is tell you
by putting my own hunger on the page.
NO MATTER WHAT
No matter what the world claims,
its wisdom always growing, so it’s said,
some things don’t alter with time:
the first kiss is a good example,
and the flighty sweetness of rhyme.
No matter what the world preaches
spring unfolds in its appointed time,
the violets open and the roses,
snow in its hour builds its shining curves,
there’s the laughter of children at play,
and the wholesome sweetness of rhyme.
No matter what the world does,
some things don’t alter with time.
The first kiss, the first death.
The sorrowful sweetness of rhyme.
~ by Mary Oliver
WHAT I CAN DO
The television has two instruments that control it.
I get confused.
The washer asks me, do you want regular or delicate?
Honestly, I just want clean.
Everything is like that.
I won’t even mention cell phones.
I can turn on the light of the lamp beside my chair
where a book is waiting, but that’s about it.
Oh yes, and I can strike a match and make a fire.
~ Mary Oliver
I DON’T WANT TO BE DEMURE OR RESPECTABLE
I don’t want to be demure or respectable.
I was that way, asleep, for years.
That way, you forget too many important things.
How the little stones, even if you can’t hear them, are singing.
How the river can’t wait to get to the ocean and the sky, it’s been there before.
What traveling is that!
It is a joy to imagine such distances.
I could skip sleep for the next hundred years.
There is a fire in the lashes of my eyes.
It doesn’t matter where I am, it could be a small room.
The glimmer of gold Böhme saw on the kitchen pot
was missed by everyone else in the house.
Maybe the fire in my lashes is a reflection of that.
Why do I have so many thoughts, they are driving me crazy.
Why am I always going anywhere, instead of somewhere?
Listen to me or not, it hardly matters.
I’m not trying to be wise, that would be foolish.
I’m just chattering.
From Blue Horses by Mary Oliver
Night and the River
I have seen the great feet
into the river
and I have seen moonlight
along the long muzzle
and I have seen the body
scaled and wonderful
slumped in the sudden fire of its mouth,
and I could not tell
which fit me
more comfortably, the power,
or the powerlessness;
neither would have me
entirely; I was divided,
After a while
it was done,
the fish had vanished, the bear
to the green shore
and into the trees. And then there was only
It followed me home
and entered my house—
a difficult guest
with a single tune
which it hums all day and through the night—
slowly or briskly,
it doesn’t matter,
it sounds like a river leaping and falling;
it sounds like a body
~ Mary Oliver
Have you ever seen
in your life
than the way the sun,
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,
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
as it warms you
as you stand there,
or have you too
turned from this world–
or have you too
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
~ Mary Oliver
By Mary Oliver
I was walking the field,
in the fatness of spring
the field was flooded with water, water stained black,
black from the tissues of leaves, oak mostly, but also
Then the big hawk rose. In her eyes
I could see how thoroughly she
hated me. And there was her nest, like a round raft
with three white eggs in it, just
above the black water.
* * *
She floats away
climbs the invisible air
on her masculine wings
then glides back
climbs again angry
does not look at me.
Halfway to my knees
in the black water
I look up
I cannot stop looking up
how much time has passed
I can hardly see her now
swinging in that blue blaze.
* * *
There are days when I rise from my desk desolate.
There are days when the field water and the slender grasses
and the wild hawks
have it all over the rest of us
whether or not they make clear sense, ride the beautiful
long spine of grammar, whether or not they rhyme.
Letting Paint Dry 2012 by Drea
“The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.” ~ Mary Oliver
“It is a silver morning like any other,” says poet Mary Oliver (in her essay “Power and Time”). “I am at my desk. Then the phone rings, or someone raps at the door. I am deep in the machinery of my wits. Reluctantly I rise, I answer the phone or open the door. And the thought which I had in hand, or almost in hand, is gone.
“Creative work needs solitude. It needs concentration, without interruptions. It needs the whole sky to fly in, and no eye watching until it comes to that certainty which it aspires to, but does not necessarily have at once. Privacy, then. A place apart — to pace, to chew pencils, to scribble and erase and scribble again.
“But just as often, if not more often, the interruption comes not from another but from the self itself, or some other self within the self, that whistles and pounds upon the door panels and tosses itself, splashing, into the pond of meditation. And what does it have to say? That you must phone the dentist, that you are out of mustard, that your uncle Stanley’s birthday is two weeks hence. You react, of course. Then you return to work, only to find that the imps of idea have fled back into the mist.”