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Question: What Do We Know about Mary Oliver?

Answer: Read, Read, Read


No Voyage down The River Styx because The Night Traveler is stuck paddling Upstream on the Ohio

American Primitive: Evidence of Dream Work while Sleeping in the Forest under Twelve Moons

House of Light in Provincetown

Blue Pastures, Blue Iris, in a blue period

West Winds during Winter Hours scatter The Leaf and the Cloud

Owls, Swans, Truro Bears and Other Fantasies

Why I Wake Early? Better to see and hear patriotic Red Birds, White Pines, and Blue Horses

Wild geese At Blackwater Pond with a Thirst for knowledge

Dog Songs and The Rules for Dance and Felicity in Our World

A Thousand Mornings make short memories in a Long Life

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Second Answer: And then read some more …

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First Yoga Lesson

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“Be a lotus in the pond,” she said, “opening

slowly, no single energy tugging

against another but peacefully,

all together.”


I couldn’t even touch my toes.

“Feel your quadriceps stretching?” she asked.

Well, something was certainly stretching.


Standing impressively upright, she

raised one leg and placed it against

the other, then lifted her arms and

shook her hands like leaves. “Be a tree,” she said.


I lay on the floor, exhausted.

But to be a lotus in the pond

opening slowly, and very slowly rising –

that I could do.

— Mary Oliver


The Journey

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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


The Kingfisher


The Kingfisher rises out of the black wave

“The kingfisher rises out of the black wave

like a blue flower, in his beak

he carries a silver leaf. I think this is

the prettiest world — so long as you don’t mind

a little dying, how could there be a day in your

whole life that doesn’t have its splash of happiness?

There are more fish than there are leaves

on a thousand trees, and anyway the kingfisher

wasn’t born to think about it, or anything else.

When the wave snaps shut over his blue head, the

water remains water — hunger is the only story

he has ever heard in his life that he could believe.”

~ From The Kingfisher by Mary Oliver