Sometimes by Mary Oliver

Art, Beauty & Nature

Sometimes by Mary Oliver

1.
Something came up
out of the dark.
It wasn’t anything I had ever seen before.
It wasn’t an animal
or a flower,
unless it was both.
Something came up out of the water,
a head the size of a cat
but muddy and without ears.
I don’t know what God is.
I don’t know what death is.
But I believe they have between them
some fervent and necessary arrangement.
2.
Sometime
melancholy leaves me breathless…
3.
Water from the heavens! Electricity from the source!
Both of them mad to create something!
The lighting brighter than any flower.
The thunder without a drowsy bone in its body.
4.
Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.
5.
Two or three times in my life I discovered love.
Each time it seemed to solve everything.
Each time it solved a great many things
but not everything.
Yet left me as grateful as if it had indeed, and
thoroughly, solved everything.
6.
God, rest in  my heart
and fortify me,
take away my hunger for answers,
let the hours play upon my body
like the hands of my beloved.
Let the cathead appear again-
the smallest of your mysteries,
some wild cousin of my own blood probably-
some cousin of my own wild blood probably,
in the black dinner-bowl of the pond.
7.
Death waits for me, I know it, around
one corner or another.
This doesn’t amuse me.
Neither does it frighten me.
After the rain, I went back into the field of sunflowers.
It was cool, and I was anything but drowsy.
I walked slowly, and listened
to the crazy roots, in the drenched earth, laughing and growing.

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Invitation by Mary Oliver

Art, Beauty & Nature
Invitation by Mary Oliver

Oh do you have time
to linger
for just a little while
out of your busy

and very important day
for the goldfinches
that have gathered
in a field of thistles

for a musical battle,
to see who can sing
the highest note,
or the lowest,

or the most expressive of mirth,
or the most tender?
Their strong, blunt beaks
drink the air

as they strive
melodiously
not for your sake
and not for mine

and not for the sake of winning
but for sheer delight and gratitude –
believe us, they say,
it is a serious thing

just to be alive
on this fresh morning
in the broken world.
I beg of you,

do not walk by
without pausing
to attend to this
rather ridiculous performance.

It could mean something.
It could mean everything.
It could be what Rilke meant, when he wrote:
You must change your life.

 


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“Landscape” by Mary Oliver

Art, Beauty & Nature

“Landscape”
by Mary Oliver

Isn’t it plain the sheets of moss, except that
they have no tongues, could lecture
all day if they wanted about

spiritual patience? Isn’t it clear
the black oaks along the path are standing
as though they were the most fragile of flowers?

Every morning I walk like this around
the pond, thinking: if the doors of my heart
ever close, I am as good as dead.

Every morning, so far, I’m alive. And now
the crows break off from the rest of the darkness
and burst up into the sky—as though

all night they had thought of what they would like
their lives to be, and imagined
their strong, thick wings.

 


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“Spring” by Mary Oliver

Beauty & Nature

“Spring”
by Mary Oliver

Somewhere

a black bear

has just risen from sleep

and is staring

 

down the mountain.

All night

in the brisk and shallow restlessness

of early spring

 

I think of her,

her four black fists

flicking the gravel,

her tongue

 

like a red fire

touching the grass,

the cold water.

There is only one question:

 

how to love this world.

I think of her

rising

like a black and leafy ledge

 

to sharpen her claws against

the silence

of the trees.

Whatever else

 

my life is

with its poems

and its music

and its glass cities,

 

it is also this dazzling darkness

coming

down the mountain,

breathing and tasting;

 

all day I think of her—

her white teeth,

her wordlessness,

her perfect love.

 


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“Long Afternoon at the Edge of Little Sister Pond” by Mary Oliver

Beauty & Nature

“Long Afternoon at the Edge of Little Sister Pond”
by Mary Oliver

As for life,
I’m humbled,
I’m without words
sufficient to say

how it has been hard as flint,
and soft as a spring pond,
both of these
and over and over,

and long pale afternoons besides,
and so many mysteries
beautiful as eggs in a nest,
still unhatched

though warm and watched over
by something I have never seen—
a tree angel, perhaps,
or a ghost of holiness.

Every day I walk out into the world
to be dazzled, then to be reflective.

It suffices, it is all comfort—

along with human love,

dog love, water love, little-serpent love,
sunburst love, or love for that smallest of birds
flying among the scarlet flowers.
There is hardly time to think about

stopping, and lying down at last
to the long afterlife, to the tenderness
yet to come, when
time will brim over the singular pond, and become forever,

and we will pretend to melt away into the leaves.
As for death,
I can’t wait to be the hummingbird,
can you?

 


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