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
Second Answer: And then read some more …
First Yoga Lesson
“Be a lotus in the pond,” she said, “opening
slowly, no single energy tugging
against another but peacefully,
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
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
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 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