Poem

Poetry is such an odd thing. It can feel entirely inaccessible, almost foreign, and then at other times the words a person has put together seem to fit perfectly. The poem is illuminating. It burrows into you and creates a tiny space that wasn’t there before. You remember things you’d forgotten, you consider a new idea, your heart skips a beat as you realise you’ve been recognized. Or, as with this one, it prompts you to ask yourself a question. One that slinks into you like a silver fox, makes a nest and won’t leave you alone… or is that just me?

It’s a joy, actually, to be quizzed by a poem. They are kindly, benign creatures for the most part. Be careful of the ones that haven’t been spoken aloud in a while though; they might be hungry.

This a poem by Mary Oliver that I’ve always loved and came across again last night. I marvel at her work. Read it aloud. Relish the sound of the words. I dare you.

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?

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2 Responses to Poem

  1. Seamus says:

    For some reason, I am reminded of this by Raymond Carver:

    What The Doctor Said

    He said it doesn’t look good
    he said it looks bad in fact real bad
    he said I counted thirty-two of them on one lung before
    I quit counting them
    I said I’m glad I wouldn’t want to know
    about any more being there than that
    he said are you a religious man do you kneel down
    in forest groves and let yourself ask for help
    when you come to a waterfall
    mist blowing against your face and arms
    do you stop and ask for understanding at those moments
    I said not yet but I intend to start today
    he said I’m real sorry he said
    I wish I had some other kind of news to give you
    I said Amen and he said something else
    I didn’t catch and not knowing what else to do
    and not wanting him to have to repeat it
    and me to have to fully digest it
    I just looked at him
    for a minute and he looked back it was then
    I jumped up and shook hands with this man who’d just given me
    something no one else on earth had ever given me
    I may have even thanked him habit being so strong

    Also this:

    Late Fragment

    And did you get what
    you wanted from this life, even so?
    I did.
    And what did you want?
    To call myself beloved, to feel myself
    beloved on the earth.

  2. O I love that poem too and she is an inspiration. If I ever doubt my contemplative self in a world gone mad I turn to her. Thanks for reminding me of that “one wild life” and I’m looking forward to so much more from you here as you look up:~))

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