Posts Tagged ‘life and death’

A white owl hunting in and out of the snow helps Mary Oliver see death as spiritual transformation

January 13, 2018

snowyowl-mandel

White Owl Flies Into And Out Of The Field

Coming down
out of the freezing sky
with its depths of light,
like an angel,
or a Buddha with wings,
it was beautiful
and accurate,
striking the snow and whatever was there
with a force that left the imprint
of the tips of its wings–
five feet apart–and the grabbing
thrust of its feet,
and the indentation of what had been running
through the white valleys
of the snow–

and then it rose, gracefully,
and flew back to the frozen marshes,
to lurk there,
like a little lighthouse,
in the blue shadows–
so I thought:
maybe death
isn’t darkness, after all,
but so much light
wrapping itself around us–

as soft as feathers–
that we are instantly weary
of looking, and looking, and shut our eyes,
not without amazement,
and let ourselves be carried,
as through the translucence of mica,
to the river
that is without the least dapple or shadow,
that is nothing but light–scalding, aortal light–
in which we are washed and washed
out of our bones.

House of Light, 1990 © Mary Oliver

Seven other poems by Mary Oliver are posted on The Uncarved Blog.

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Our Meditation Love Poem for Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2015

I wrote Our Meditation Love Poem, about 4 ½ years ago, and decided to post it now, for Valentine’s Day. I was visiting my sweetheart during the week at her care facility and wrote the poem and story behind it that Saturday, September 4, 2010, almost 4 ½ months after she moved in.

OurMeditationLovePoemForSali

I was remembering the meditation we had this week; my chest area filled up with a great inner warmth and bliss of loving you. Tonight, I was listening to Leonard Cohen singing his songs of love, and started writing this poem from that memory, that feeling, and also remembered the quote in the film, Tristan and Isolde, when he is dying and he says to her, “You were right—life is greater than death, but love is greater than either.” He was referring to what she had said when they first met, about following your heart, and that love in one’s life fills up what would otherwise be an empty shell of duty and honor, quoting John Donne’s The Good Morrow, where he writes:

My face in thine eye, thine in mine appeares,
And true plaine hearts doe in the faces rest,
…..
If our two loves be one, or, thou and I
Love so alike, that none doe slacken, none can die.

So I came up with this poem, Our Meditation Love Poem. I found myself writing a 17-syllable line, the sum of a haiku in 3 lines. I liked the flow and decided to make each line 17 syllables long, each one having its own internal rhythm and flow. I wanted to write 11 lines for some reason, maybe thinking there were 11 syllables in each line. But now I remember there are 17. But I would then have to write 6 more lines, and right now I can’t see it. I naturally divided them into 2 stanzas of 4 lines each followed by a stanza of 3 at the end. It seems to have worked well.

Related: See this for : i carry your heart with me by e.e. cummings. And This Quiet Love, a #LovePoem from Kenny, for Sally on #ValentinesDay. Enjoy reading other beautiful love poems posted on The Uncarved Blog.

Wendell Berry’s “No going back” is about the generosity of the evolving self through time

July 29, 2014

No Going Back
(Wendell Berry)

No, no, there is no going back.
Less and less you are
that possibility you were.
More and more you have become
those lives and deaths
that have belonged to you.
You have become a sort of grave
containing much that was
and is no more in time, beloved
then, now, and always.
And so you have become a sort of tree
standing over a grave.
Now more than ever you can be
generous toward each day
that comes, young, to disappear
forever, and yet remain
unaging in the mind.
Every day you have less reason
not to give yourself away.

(The Sabbath Poems, 1993, I)

Here is a National Endowment For The Humanities interview with Wendell E. Berry, Awards & Honors: 2012 Jefferson Lecturer. These poems by Walcott, O’Donohue, Hafiz, and Oliver complement Berry’s theme: Love after Love, by Derek Walcott, A Blessing of Solitude by John O’Donohue, The Root of The Rose by Hafiz, translated by Daniel Ladinsky, and The Journey by Mary Oliver.


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