Posts Tagged ‘mary oliver’

This One by Mary Oliver shows us the beauty and fragility of the world and our place in it together

February 17, 2017

This poem, One, by Mary Oliver, published in Why I Wake Early, shows us the beauty and fragility of the world and our place in it together. See more beautiful poems by this poet posted here.

One

The mosquito is so small
it takes almost nothing to ruin it.
Each leaf, the same.
And the black ant, hurrying.
So many lives, so many fortunes!
Every morning, I walk softly and with forward glances
down to the ponds and through the pinewoods.
Mushrooms, even, have but a brief hour
before the slug creeps to the feast,
before the pine needles hustle down
under the bundles of harsh, beneficent rain.

How many, how many, how many
make up a world!
And then I think of that old idea: the singular
and the eternal.
One cup, in which everything is swirled
back to the color of the sea and sky.
Imagine it!

A shining cup, surely!
In the moment in which there is no wind
over your shoulder,
you stare down into it,
and there you are,
your own darling face, your own eyes.
And then the wind, not thinking of you, just passes by,
touching the ant, the mosquito, the leaf,
and you know what else!
How blue is the sea, how blue is the sky,
how blue and tiny and redeemable everything is, even you,
even your eyes, even your imagination.

Change begins within, and it starts with me.

January 26, 2017

It Is I Who Must Begin

It is I who must begin.
Once I begin, once I try —
here and now,
right where I am,
not excusing myself
by saying things
would be easier elsewhere,
without grand speeches and
ostentatious gestures,
but all the more persistently
— to live in harmony
with the “voice of Being,” as I
understand it within myself
— as soon as I begin that,
I suddenly discover,
to my surprise, that
I am neither the only one,
nor the first,
nor the most important one
to have set out
upon that road.

Whether all is really lost
or not depends entirely on
whether or not I am lost.

~ Vaclav Havel ~

(Teaching with Fire: Poetry That Sustains the Courage to Teach, ed. by S.M. Intrator and M. Scribner)

This reminds me of Mary Oliver’s poem, The Journey, where leaving home is necessary to “save the only life you could save” and discover what it’s meant to be. Then you can change it, begin it; for as Kukai said in his poem, Singing Image of Fire, “all things change when we do.”  Change begins within, and it starts with me.

The job of a poet — someone’s gotta do it!

May 27, 2015

The job of a poet is translating what he or she is experiencing into words. If it resonates with other people’s experience, allows them to identify with what’s in the poem in a way they could not have expressed as well with words, and gives them pleasure, then it’s a good poem.

While in NYC recently, my son commented on my m.o. as a poet, how I notice things, name and say what I’m experiencing at the time. So I wrote this simple haiku for him, a sort of job description.

Experiencing
Noticing … Naming … Saying
Job of a Poet

Case in point, when I was returning from Iowa City last week, I dropped in to see Sali. She was still in her bed; they hadn’t gotten her up yet for dinner. I held her hand and spoke to her, telling her how much I loved her. A part of me was noticing how I was feeling, what was happening within and between us. From that experience, I wrote this haiku for her.

The thrill of the heart
Holding hands and loving you
The peace that follows

Some of Mary Oliver’s poems are exquisite: At the Lake, Summer Day, Varanasi, Praying, Wild Geese, and The Journey.

Here are two poems about “The Poet” one I wrote about Bill Graeser, and one Rolf Erickson wrote about me.

I also posted a brilliant poem that Bill Graeser wrote about an unusual poet: What You May Not Know About Frankenstein.

And here is a poem about the experience of listening to Poetry – The Art of the Voice.

Both haiku were written May 18, 2015, in Fairfield, Iowa © Ken Chawkin

Mary Oliver’s transcendent experience at the lake, put into words, might leave you breathless

May 27, 2015

At the Lake

A fish leaps
like a black pin —
then — when the starlight
strikes its side —

like a silver pin.
In an instant
the fish’s spine
alters the fierce line of rising

and it curls a little —
the head, like scalloped tin,
plunges back,
and it’s gone.

This is, I think,
what holiness is:
the natural world,
where every moment is full

of the passion to keep moving.
Inside every mind
there’s a hermit’s cave
full of light,

full of snow,
full of concentration.
I’ve knelt there,
and so have you,

hanging on
to what you love,
to what is lovely.
The lake’s

shining sheets
don’t make a ripple now,
and the stars
are going off to their blue sleep,

but the words are in place —
and the fish leaps, and leaps again
from the black plush of the poem,
that breathless space.

~ Mary Oliver ~

(White Pine)

 Enjoy these other lovely poems by Mary Oliver: Summer Day, Varanasi, Praying, Wild Geese, and The Journey.

Rolf Erickson’s Mirror Lake creates a cosmic connection for the reader.

Mary Oliver’s Summer Day is filled with wonder

June 23, 2014

The Summer Day

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 ~

(New and Selected Poems, Volume I)

Related: Mary Oliver’s poem, Praying, is a lesson on attention, receptivity, listening and writing.

Other poems: The Journey by Mary Oliver | Wild Geese by Mary Oliver, photo by Ken West | Varanasi by Mary Oliver in A Thousand Mornings.

Varanasi by Mary Oliver in A Thousand Mornings

March 16, 2013

I previously posted Mary Oliver’s poem, Praying, and Philip Goldberg emailed me to say that someone recently showed him the last poem in her new collection (A Thousand Mornings). He said, “It’s called ‘Varanasi,’ and it’s exquisite.” I started looking for it and found the poem posted by another poet, Bob Arnold, on his website. After reading it I agreed – it’s stunning! That’s why I’m posting it here for you to enjoy. I also came across a musical video of the poem with images from the Ganges. After you’ve read the poem, see Diane Walker’s poetic reaction to it below. But take a break from this busy introduction, and then enjoy the enlightened peaceful simplicity of Mary Oliver’s visit to Varanasi.

VARANASI

Early in the morning we crossed the ghat,

where fires were still smoldering,

and gazed, with our Western minds, into the Ganges.

A woman was standing in the river up to her waist;

she was lifting handfuls of water and spilling it

over her body, slowly and many times,

as if until there came some moment

of inner satisfaction between her own life and the river’s.

Then she dipped a vessel she had brought with her

and carried it filled with water back across the ghat,

no doubt to refresh some shrine near where she lives,

for this is the holy city of Shiva, maker

of the world, and this is his river.

I can’t say much more, except that it all happened

in silence and peaceful simplicity, and something that felt

like that bliss of a certainty and a life lived

in accordance with that certainty.

I must remember this, I thought, as we fly back

to America.

Pray God I remember this.

_______________________

Mary Oliver
A Thousand Mornings
(Penguin, 2012)

Now read this beautiful poetic reaction to the poem, Mary Oliver’s Varanasi, that Diane Walker, a contemplative photographer, posted on her website.

Among the NPR Poetry series is this interview ‘A Thousand Mornings’ With Poet Mary Oliver. You can also read the transcript here. I especially love this remark she makes about poetry:

“One thing I do know is that poetry, to be understood, must be clear. It mustn’t be fancy. I have the feeling that a lot of poets writing now are – they sort of tap dance through it. I always feel that whatever isn’t necessary shouldn’t be in a poem.”

Here are a few other poems by Mary Oliver posted on this blog, and the wonderful Maria Shriver Interview With Mary Oliver.

Speaking of another famous American visiting the Ganges, see Prudence Farrow — subject of the Beatles song Dear Prudence — visits India’s Kumbh Mela.

Mary Oliver’s poem, Praying, is a lesson on attention, receptivity, listening and writing

March 14, 2013

Praying

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

~ Mary Oliver ~

(Thirst)

An inspiration for a poem came to me from such receptivity to a tree. The first words entered my mind while admiring it. I wrote them down, and the next morning, I rewrote them as a stanza, and then the sequential stanzas naturally followed, reiterating what Mary Oliver describes. It was as if I was given a creative seed and it sprouted. This gift from the tree was much appreciated. I later called it Being in Nature. Its sequel, trees, was about the nature of trees, and what we can learn from them. Another poem once came to me from a rock with a sense of humor. You can read RIVER ROCK SPEAKS in my Vancouver Park Poems.

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver, photo by Ken West

November 14, 2011

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

—Mary Oliver

From Dream Work published by Atlantic Monthly Press

This photo of a family of Canadian Geese was taken by Ken West Iowa Landscape and Nature Photography. Ken West and his unique landscape photographs are featured on IPTV show Iowa Outdoors. For more on Mary Oliver see The Journey by Mary Oliver, with links to other poems and an interview with Maria Shriver.

Listen to “Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver when she was interviewed by Krista Tippett On Being: Listening to the World.


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