Saturday, June 11, 2011

Mary Oliver reads Mornings at Blackwater

What do you know about Mary Oliver, the poet quoted at the top of my blog?  I must admit, I love her question to us all, about our one wild and precious life, but I truly didn't know much about the woman who asked.  And in all honesty, I didn't take the time to go learn.  I just enjoyed the words and moved on, asking myself the question each time I came to my home page.  Allowing the wildness and preciousness of life to hold me for a moment.

I spent some time last weekend browsing around the internet, following links to friends pages, following links they shared.  And in the process came across the most amazing link, where Mary Oliver did a reading of her brief poem "Mornings at Blackwater."  The poem - and the reading of the poem - just rolled over me, making me think of all those who can not gain leave of the past - the distant or the near.  So many of us need to let go of so many things and find the way to be here now - and find the way to live our lives.

I started doing some research about Mary Oliver, and I find that this New England poet, writing of life and nature, speaks to me in many ways.  Maybe it is because I grew up spending summers in New England with my grandparents.  Maybe it is because I grew up in the NorthEast and somehow have some of that old Yankee sensibility.  Maybe it is because Mary Oliver can paint better with words than I can even imagine painting with a brush.

For me, finding a poet is like finding a complete delicious surprise right in the very middle of "usual" and "normal" where you didn't expect to find anything but more.

And so now I know where my quote is from.  And I love it even more.

The Summer Day

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?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Lovely poem. She must have had a good deal of patience and forsight to know how to get a grasshopper to land on her hand. I didn't know they liked sugar. Dianne


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