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Archive for the ‘Mary Oliver’ Category

large_trees

Yes, I’ve gone and done it again.  Another found poem.  This time instead of contrasting two poets together, I have taken one poet: Mary Oliver and pulled pieces from 8 different poems to bring together a brand new poem.  I’ve taken no more than two to four lines from each poem.  Each verse is from a different poem and in a few cases a pronoun has been changed.  After this found poem, I cite the poems that were used to create it.


Every morning I walk softly and with forward glances
down to the ponds and through the pinewoods.

I have gone every day to the same woods,
not waiting, exactly, just lingering.

I have thought sometimes that
something – I can’t name it –
watches as I walk

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”

Later, lying half-asleep under
the blankets, I watch
while the doe, glittering with rain, steps
under the wet slabs of the pines

These are the woods I love,
where the secret name
of every death is life again – a miracle

Someday I’ll live in the sky.
Meanwhile the house of my life is this green world.

In the book of the earth it is written:
nothing can die.

~Mary Oliver~

One
The Place I Want to Get Back To
Beans
When I Am Among the Trees
Clapp’s Pond
Skunk Cabbage
Boundaries
Ghosts

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Altarimages

“In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism.

There is no such thing as not worshipping.

Everybody worships

The only choice we get is what to worship.”  ~David Foster Wallace

I was so struck by reading those words.  What a unique take on the concept of worshipping.  Another way of understanding that, is everybody has faith and trust, it’s just a matter of where you place that faith and trust.  You can have faith that nothing works out, you can trust that no one is trustworthy!  The spectrum is broad and endless on what we choose to worship, where our faith and trust chooses to land.

I have an old tape that plays in my head, it comes in various flavors, but it’s basic posture is not good enough in one way or another.  When that tape is playing, I am a worshipper at the altar of not good enough.  When I look at it that way, I can hear the alarm bells sounding their wake up call to live consciously.

Take this precious gift, these senses, this body, this vehicle to worship at the altar of how much I love this life. How much I adore the sounds of my youngest daughter playing her guitar and singing in the next room.  The sleeping, snoring content sound of my dog at my feet.  The open window to my left and the sounds of our swollen back yard stream.  The occasional birdsong dotting the air.

My heart sings to the tune … “my work is loving the world.” (Mary Oliver)

Writing this to all of you now, a tad jet lagged.  I read an entire book on the plane ride last night, start to finish: Janet Evanovich’s Wicked Business, which was wicked good!  So, of all places, I will quote her on faith:

“Love is a leap of faith.”

Leaps of faith are not the ones that stem from habit or conditioned mind.  They’re as new and fresh as this day is, a true “present”.  This new day I am invited to sit at the altar of loving this world and myself in it.  How about you?  What do you choose to worship today?

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The Journey

Turnagain Arm Rock

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 ~

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Image Locale

“Every day I see or hear something that more or less kills me with delight.”
~Mary Oliver~

What do you love?  This was a question from the powerful weekly question.  G. K. Chesterton wrote: praise should be the permanent pulsation of the soul.  And I say — yes, yes, it totally could be!

Many years ago, I watched a soap opera, The Days of Our Lives.  It had a tag line: like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.  Today I would like to “bogart” that phrase and say — like sands through the hour glass, so are the Days of Our Love.

It’s a brand new shiny day stretched before you.  What shall you fill it with?  How about noticing what you love?  What lights you up from the inside out?  What delights you?  What makes you smile?  Notice and nurture it.  This is the essence of animating this life we are living.  And to feed and water what we love in life is to flow energy in the direction of that which feeds our heart and soul.

There was a book entitled Happy For No Reason.  It speaks of giving out awards, not necessarily literally but noticing and praising, either out loud or silently.  The best smile of the day.  The most beautiful flower of the day.  The most vocal bird of the day.  The most engaging store clerk of the day.  You get the idea, noticing the little, simple things.

While up in the Cascades I noticed there was a variety of pine that we don’t often see in the lower elevations.  Their needles were inches upon inches long.  One evening I watched as the sun went down, how the light hit the pines just so.  How it glistened on the tips of the needles as a gentle breeze brought forth clusters of sparkles.  I loved that moment of noticing just that and I’m still milking that one tiny moment.

It’s the simple things in life calling us to it.  Some days we want to run and leap into its arms.  Other days it calls us gently, softly with a whisper barely audible but always there, beckoning us forward.

Breathe deep and gather in the fragrance of all that lies before you today.  For none of it means anything until, with our own unique brand of attention to it, we give it dimension and depth.  Perhaps the richest discoveries of all lie in the simple, the trivial, the once easily overlooked.


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Prayer

So I purposely haven’t written about the big event that happened at our house the night after summer solstice, when it is said “the veils are thin”.  If you read Songbirds Amidst the Wreckage, then you might have guessed it.  I can say that several changes have been made in my life since then but still I sense there’s something more.  Maybe there’s a whole string of something mores.  Until I can write a happy, expansive conclusion to that particular event, then I’ll write other things or quote some of my favorite people and maybe re-run a few oldies but goodies.

I’ll be out of town three times this month which is good because my inclination has been to curl up at home and stick with what is known and what is contained and unchangeable.  Instead, I’ll stretch myself again into the nether reaches of this great country we live in.  Ok, it’s only Pennsylvania, Portland and the Cascades but it is departing from the familiar comforts of home.

For now, I leave you with a poem from Mary Oliver.  One of the great poets whose words leave an indelible ink stain on my heart.

Prayer

May I never not be frisky,
May I never not be risque.

May my ashes, when you have them, friend,
and give them to the ocean,

leap in the froth of the waves,
still loving movement,

still ready, beyond all else,
to dance for the world.

~Mary Oliver~
Evidence: Poems by Mary Oliver

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I Want to Write Something So Simply

I want to write something
so simply
about love
or about pain
that even
as you are reading
you feel it
and as you read
you keep feeling it
and though it be my story
it will be common,
though it be singular
it will be known to you
so that by the end
you will think —
no, you will realize —
that it was all the while
yourself arranging the words
that it was all the time
words that you yourself,
out of your own heart
had been saying.

~Mary Oliver~
Evidence: Poems by Mary Oliver

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The Trees

I was reading Mary Oliver poems last night from her book entitled “Evidence”.  It’s been awhile since I’ve posted her poetry.  She is such a beautiful voice for expressing her passion around life, living and nature.  I think it’s fitting then to conclude this month that heralded Spring’s arrival, with a handful of selections from Mary Oliver.

Image Locale

The Trees

Do you think of them as decoration?

Think again.

Here are maples, flashing.
And here are the oaks, holding on all winter
to their dry leaves.
And here are the pines, that will never fail,
until death, the instruction to be green.
And here are the willows, the first
to pronounce a new year.

May I invite you to revise your thoughts about them?
Oh, Lord, how we are all for invention and
advancement!
But I think
it would do us good if we would think about
these brothers and sisters, quietly and deeply.

The trees, the trees, just holding on
to the old, holy ways.

~Mary Oliver~
Evidence: Poems by Mary Oliver

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The snow
began here
this morning and all day
continued, its white
rhetoric everywhere
calling us back to why, how,
whence such beauty and what
the meaning; such
an oracular fever! flowing
past windows, an energy it seemed
would never ebb, never settle
less than lovely! and only now,
deep into night,
it has finally ended.
The silence
is immense,
and the heavens still hold
a million candles, nowhere
the familiar things:
stars, the moon,
the darkness we expect
and nightly turn from. Trees
glitter like castles
of ribbons, the broad fields
smolder with light, a passing
creekbed lies
heaped with shining hills;
and though the questions
that have assailed us all day
remain — not a single
answer has been found —
walking out now
into the silence and the light
under the trees,
and through the fields,
feels like one.

~Mary Oliver~
excerpted from American Primitive

Those who are familiar with Mary Oliver’s poetry know that she has a deep and abiding love of nature.  It’s one that I share, hence I am often drawn to her poetry.  At the conclusion of the poem, the statement: “feels like one”, I believe she is saying it feels like an answering.  Said another way, amidst the quiet majestic beauty and stillness of nature there are no unanswered questions.  Immersed in the wonder around you suddenly there are no questions left.  It is a union with nature that is so brimming with the wholeness that you and everything else is.  What’s left but to happily lose yourself inside that world, devoid of questions now, awash in a knowing and an ineluctable sense of how incredible it is to bear witness to this amazing world and yourself in it.

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plainandsimple

If there is such a thing as poetic license, I am certainly taking it now.  I have created what is known as a ‘found’ poem.  Up until now, this poem has not existed.  I have selected a couple of lines each from eight different poems and two different authors.  I chose Mary Oliver and Wendell Berry for this creation.  At the end of this found poem, I have cited the poems I used.

If you like to play with poetry, you can do this, too.  I found it a wonderful exercise as something to just drop the day’s events and lose myself inside the soft belly of poetry.  Enjoy…

* * *

I would like to write a poem about the world
that has in it, nothing fancy

Like our travels, our workdays
burned upon the world.

And forgetting everything I will leap to name it
as though for the first time

Turning always in my mind toward you,
your slopes, folds, gentle openings.

As a poem or a prayer, can also make
luminous any dark place on earth.

Maybe we’re necessary to each other,
and this vacant place has need of us both.

Calling us back to why, how and whence
such beauty and what the meaning.

To its joy we come together–the seer
and the seen, the eater and the eaten,
the lover and the loved.

* * *

Each verse was extracted from individual poems.  The pattern begins with Mary Oliver, then Wendell Berry and continues to alternate authors and poems throughout, ending with Wendell Berry.  The following references the poems used in the order that they appear:
Mary Oliver, This World
Wendell Berry, Horses
Mary Oliver, Tasting the Wild Grapes
Wendell Berry, Letter
Mary Oliver, May
Wendell Berry, A Music
Mary Oliver, First Snow
Wendell Berry, The Hidden Singer

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I Want

In honor of Earth Day, it just had to be Mary Oliver that I would select, who reflects here on the foundation of Earth Day, being in partnership with our Earth

tigerlily

I want to be
in partnership
with the universe

like the tiger lily
poking up
its gorgeous head

among the so-called
useless weeds
in the uncultivated fields

that still abide.
But it’s okay
if, after all,

I’m not a lily,
but only grass
in a clutch of curly grass

waving in the wind,
staring sunward: one of those
sweet, abrasive blades.

~Evidence~
Poems by Mary Oliver

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