By Mary Oliver
In every heart there is a coward and a procrastinator.
In every heart there is a god of flowers, just waiting
to stride out of a cloud and lift its wings.
The kookaburras, pressed against the edge of their cage,
asked me to open the door.
Years later I remember how I didn’t do it,
how instead I walked away.
They had the brown eyes of soft-hearted dogs.
They didn’t want to do anything so extraordinary, only to fly
home to their river.
By now I suppose the great darkness has covered them.
As for myself, I am not yet a god of even the palest flowers.
Nothing else has changed either.
Someone tosses their white bones to the dung-heap.
The sun shines on the latch of their cage.
I lie in the dark, my heart pounding.
Across the wide waters
with white flowers—
and it moves
on its miraculous muscles
as though time didn’t exist,
as though bringing such gifts
to the dry shore
was a happiness
almost beyond bearing.
And now it turns its dark eyes,
the clouds of its wings,
an elaborate webbed foot,
the color of charcoal.
Soon it will be here.
Oh, what shall I do
when that poppy-colored beak
rests in my hand?
Said Mrs. Blake of the poet:
I miss my husband’s company—
he is so often
Of course! the path to heaven
doesn’t lie down in flat miles.
It’s in the imagination
with which you perceive
and the gestures
with which you honor it.
Oh, what will I do, what will I say, when those
touch the shore?
~ by Mary Oliver
Poem Of The One World
by Mary Oliver
the beautiful white heron
was floating along above the water
and then into the sky of this
the one world
we all belong to
sooner or later
is a part of everything else
which thought made me feel
for a little while
quite, beautiful, myself.
“Where do I live?
If I had no address, as many people do not,
I could nevertheless say that I lived in the same town as the lilies of the field,
and the still waters.
Spring, and all through the neighborhood now there are
strong men tending flowers.
Beauty without purpose is beauty without virtue.
But all beautiful things, inherently, have this function –
to excite the viewers toward sublime thought.
Glory to the world, that good teacher.
Among the swans there is none called the least,
or the greatest.
I believe in kindness. Also in mischief.
Also in singing, especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed.
As for the body, it is solid and strong and curious and full of detail;
it wants to polish itself; it wants to love another body;
it is the only vessel in the world that can hold,
in a mix of power and sweetness:
words, song, gesture, passion, ideas,
ingenuity, devotion, merriment, vanity, and virtue.
Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.”
~ Mary Oliver
If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy,
don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty
of lives and whole towns destroyed or about
to be. We are not wise, and not very often
kind. And much can never be redeemed.
Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this
is its way of fighting back, that sometimes
something happens better than all the riches
or power in the world. It could be anything,
but very likely you notice it in the instant
when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the
case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid
of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.
~ Mary Oliver
Seven White Butterflies
By Mary Oliver
Seven white butterflies
delicate in a hurry look
how they bang the pages
of their wings as they fly
to the fields of mustard yellow
and orange and plain
gold all eternity
is in the moment this is what
Blake said Whitman said such
wisdom in the agitated
motions of the mind seven
even as worms toward
paradise see how they banter
and riot and rise
to the trees flutter
lob their white bodies into
the invisible wind weightless
to deliver themselves unto
the universe now each settles
down on a yellow thumb on a
grassy stem now
all seven are rapidly sipping
from the golden towers who
would have thought it could be so easy?