Author Archives: virtualartistaltar

earth and heaven

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Drea Art
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The Gift
By Mary Oliver

Be still, my soul, and steadfast.
Earth and heaven both are still watching
though time is draining from the clock
and your walk, that was confident and quick,
has become slow.

So, be slow if you must, but let
the heart still play its true part.
Love still as once you loved, deeply
and without patience. Let God and the world
know you are grateful. That the gift has been given.

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distance and time

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Drea Art
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On Meditating, Sort Of
by Mary Oliver

Meditation, so I’ve heard, is best accomplished
if you entertain a certain strict posture.
Frankly, I prefer just to lounge under a tree.
So why should I think I could ever be successful?

Some days I fall asleep, or land in that
even better place — half asleep — where the world,
spring, summer, autumn, winter —
flies through my mind in its
hardy ascent and its uncompromising descent.

So I just lie like that, while distance and time
reveal their true attitudes: they never
heard of me, and never will, or ever need to.

Of course I wake up finally
thinking, how wonderful to be who I am,
made out of earth and water,
my own thoughts, my own fingerprints —
all that glorious, temporary stuff.

invent the dance

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Drea Art
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Where Does the Dance Begin, Where Does It End?
By Mary Oliver

Don’t call this world adorable, or useful, that’s not it.
It’s frisky, and a theater for more than fair winds.
The eyelash of lightning is neither good nor evil.
The struck tree burns like a pillar of gold.

But the blue rain sinks, straight to the white
feet of the trees
whose mouths open.
Doesn’t the wind, turning in circles, invent the dance?
Haven’t the flowers moved, slowly, across Asia, then Europe,
until at last, now, they shine
in your own yard?

Don’t call this world an explanation, or even an education.

When the Sufi poet whirled, was he looking
outward, to the mountains so solidly there
in a white-capped ring, or was he looking

to the center of everything: the seed, the egg, the idea
that was also there,
beautiful as a thumb
curved and touching the finger, tenderly,
little love-ring,

as he whirled,
oh jug of breath,
in the garden of dust?

multiple colors

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Drea Art
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Do Stones Feel?
By Mary Oliver

Do stones feel?
Do they love their life?
Or does their patience drown out everything else?

When I walk on the beach I gather a few
white ones, dark ones, the multiple colors.
Don’t worry, I say, I’ll bring you back, and I do.

Is the tree as it rises delighted with its many
branches,
each one like a poem?

Are the clouds glad to unburden their bundles of rain?

Most of the world says no, no, it’s not possible.

I refuse to think to such a conclusion.
Too terrible it would be, to be wrong.

to be home

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Drea Art
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The Return
by Mary Oliver

1.
When I went back to the sea
it wasn’t waiting.
Neither had it gone away.
All its musics were safe and sound; the circling gulls
were still a commonplace, the fluted shells
rolled on the shore
more beautiful than money –
oh, yes, more beautiful than money!
The thick-necked seals
stood in the salted waves with their soft, untroubled faces
gazing shoreward –
oh bed of silk,
lie back now on your prairies of blackness your fields of sunlight
that I may look at you.
I am happy to be home.

2.
I do not want to be frisky, and theatrical.
I do not want to go forward in the parade of names.
I do not want to be diligent or necessary or in any way
heavy.
From my mouth to God’s ear, I swear it; I want only
to be a song.
To wander around in the fields like a little reed bird.
To be a song.

3.
Two eggs rolled from the goose nest
down to the water and halfway into the water.
What good is hoping?
I went there softly, and gathered them
and put them back into the nest
of the goose who bit me hard with her
lovely black beak with the pink
tongue-tip quivering,
and beat my arms with her
lovely long wings
and beat my face with her
lovely long wings,
what good is trying?
She hissed horribly, wanting me to be frightened.
I wasn’t frightened.
I just knew it was over,
those cold white eggs would never hatch,
the birds would forget, soon, and go back,
to the light-soaked pond,
what good is remembering?
But I wasn’t frightened.

4.
Sometimes I really believe it, that I am going to
save my life
a little.

5.
When I found the seal pup alone on the far beach,
not sleeping but looking all around, I didn’t
reason it out, for reason would have sent me away,
I just
went close but not too close, and lay down on the sand
with my back toward it, and
pretty soon it rolled over, and rolled over
until the length of its body lay along
the length of my body, and so we touched, and maybe
our breathing together was some kind of heavenly conversation
in God’s delicate and magnifying language, the one
we don’t dare speak out loud,
not yet.

6.
Rumi the poet was a scholar also.
But Shams, his friend, was an angel.
By which I don’t mean anything patient and sweet,
When I read how he took Rumi’s books and threw them
into the duck pond,
I shouted for joy. Time to live now,
Shams meant.
I see him, turning away
casually toward the road, Rumi following, the books
floating and sinking among the screeching ducks,
oh, beautiful book-eating pond!

7.
The country of the mockingbird is where I now want to be,
thank you, yes.
The days when the snow-white swans might pass over the dunes
are the days I want to eat now, slowly and carefully
and with gratitude. Thank you.
The hours fresh and tidal are the hours I want to hold
in the palm of my hand, thank you, yes.
Such grace, thank you!
The gate I want to open now is the one that leads into
the flower-bed of my mind, thank you, yes.
Every day the slow, fresh wind, thank you, yes.
The wing, in the dark, that touches me.
Thank you.
Yes.

what gorgeous thing

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Drea Art
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What Gorgeous Thing
by Mary Oliver

I do not know what gorgeous thing
the bluebird keeps saying,
his voice easing out of his throat,
beak, body into the pink air
of the early morning. I like it
whatever it is. Sometimes
it seems the only thing in the world
that is without dark thoughts.
Sometimes it seems the only thing
in the world that is without
questions that can’t and probably
never will be answered, the
only thing that is entirely content
with the pink, then clear white
morning and, gratefully, says so.

bursts into bloom

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Drea Art
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Wild, Wild
By Mary Oliver

This is what love is:

The dry rose bush the gardener, in his pruning, missed

Suddenly bursts into bloom.

A madness of delight; an obsession.

A holy gift, certainly,

But often, alas, improbable.

Why couldn’t Romeo have settled for someone else?

Why couldn’t Tristan and Isolde have refused

The shining cup

Which would have left peaceful the whole kingdom?

Wild sings the bird of the heart in the forests

Of our lives.

Over and over Faust, standing in the garden, doesn’t know

Anything that’s going to happen, he only sees

The face of Marguerite, which is irresistible.

And wild, wild sings the bird.