Tag Archives: Mary Oliver

Morning Poem

18 Jun

Zambo Sunrise 3

Every morning the world
is created.

Under the orange
sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches— and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it
the thorn
that is heavier than lead— if it’s all you can do
to keep on trudging—

there is still
somewhere deep within you a beast shouting that the earth is exactly what it wanted—

each pond with its blazing lilies is a prayer heard and answered lavishly,
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy, whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.

– Mary Oliver

The Summer Day

12 Feb

Zambo sunset

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?

– Mary Oliver,
The House Light Beacon Press Boston, 1990.

How to Find Inspiration in the Darkness

23 Jul

Whenever I feel constricted or confused, I find so much comfort in beautiful writing.

Mary Oliver is one of my favourite poets and this piece gives me such HOPE.

That once again, I will be an “acrobat in the freezing wind…full of gorgeous life”

That these softer, fallow periods of life, these forced rest stops, are opportunities to learn:

“Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us, even in the leafless winter, even in the ashy city.”

The final stanza, to me, is the lightness I crave…

“improbable, beautiful and afraid of nothing”

Starlings

Starlings in Winter

by Mary Oliver

Chunky and noisy,
but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire
and instantly

they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air,
they swing over buildings,

dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
that opens,
becomes for a moment fragmented,

then closes again;
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can’t imagine

how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing,

this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again,
full of gorgeous life.
Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,

even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;

I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard, I want

to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable, beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.

Let it Go

How To Be Brave

31 May

You’re right. It’s not always easy.

The road might be difficult or rocky or scary. You might trip, or fall or have your foot run over by a car. You might look stupid. These are all possibilities.

A head full of fears

But you might also kick ass. You might succeed beyond your wildest dreams. Meet amazing people. Grow yourself. Expand your heart. Change your life and the lives of those around you.
You might wake up every day and spring out of bed because you are so excited about what’s going to happen today.

And so. It’s time to start.
You might think you will actually DIE, but you won’t.

Fear is a Liar

First, you start taking little steps, moving outside your comfort zone.

You climb more trees.

Sometimes it seems impossible and daunting and those lower braches call out to you with their comfort and familiarity. Sometimes you spend time clinging to the trunk, weathering yet another storm, praying you can hold on until it passes.

And then you get better at climbing. You start looking for more interesting and challenging trees to climb. You start to see that there’s a whole forest for you to explore and climb and play in.

Your world becomes bigger.

Treetops

Notice how you speak to yourself, as you climb. How do we speak to a child as they take their first steps? Try their first words? We respond with wonder and laughter and praise! Even if they fall or make mistakes, you are kind, encouraging, gentle. Be the same with your dreams, in their infancy.

Because that encouragement will keep you going. Guide you on. Pull your heart to its rightful place.
And one day you will stop, and look out across the tree tops and realise you have the most beautiful view in the world, stretched out below you. You feel the wind in your hair and the sun on your face and stretch your arms out above the canopy and thank God/the universe/the planet that you’re alive.

That you get to be where you are and who you are.

And you spy that first tiny sapling you were afraid to let go of and realise you would never have seen any of this if you hadn’t taken those first little steps.

Leap of Faith

THAT’S how you find courage. By realising the end point, or something along it’s way, is worth facing your fears.

“Fear is not real. It is a product of thoughts you create. Do not misunderstand me. Danger is very real. But fear is a choice.”
– After Earth

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice –
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do –
determined to save
the only life you could save.

– Mary Oliver