Thursday, September 10, 2015

Happy Birthday, Mary

It's Mary Oliver's birthday today, a celebration of a life lived deeply and given freely through poetry. No one else I know of has lived more in tune with the natural world--and with our humanity--than has Mary Oliver.

"Forest Sunrise" by Alfred Bierstadt (1830-1903)


Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange

sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches--
and ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it

the thorn
that is heavier than lead--
if it's all you can do
to keep on trudging--

there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted--

each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.

"Morning Poem" by Mary Oliver, from Dream Work, 1986.

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