Evening Poetry, May 24

Logos

by Mary Oliver

Why worry about the loaves and fishes?
If you say the right words, the wine expands.
If you say them with love
and the felt ferocity of that love
and the felt necessity of that love,
the fish explode into many.
Imagine him, speaking,
and don’t worry about what is reality,
or what is plain, or what is mysterious.
If you were there, it was all those things.
If you can imagine it, it is all those things.
Eat, drink, be happy.
Accept the miracle.
Accept, too, each spoken word
spoken with love.

You can find this poem in Why I Wake Early.

Evening Poetry, May 16

Lingering In Happiness

by Mary Oliver

After rain after many days without rain,
it stays cool, private and cleansed, under the trees,
and the dampness there, married now to gravity,
falls branch to branch, leaf to leaf, down to the ground

where it will disappear–but not, of course, vanish
except to our eyes. The roots of the oaks will have their share,
and the white threads of the grasses, and the cushion of moss;
a few drops, round as pearls, will enter the mole’s tunnel;

and soon so many small stones, buried for a thousand years,
will feel themselves being touched.

You can find this poem in Why I Wake Early.

Evening Poetry, May 11

North Country

by Mary Oliver

In the north country now it is spring and there

is a certain celebration. The thrush

has come home. He is shy and likes the

evening best, also the hour just before

morning; in that blue and gritty light he

climbs to his branch, or smoothly

sails there. It is okay to know only

one song if it is this one. Hear it

rise and fall; the very elements of your soul

shiver nicely. What would spring be

without it? Mostly frogs. But don’t worry, he

arrives, year after year, humble and obedient

and gorgeous. You listen and you know

you could live a better life than you do, be

softer, kinder. And maybe this year you will

be able to do it. Hear how his voice

rises and falls. There is no way to be

sufficiently grateful for the gifts we are

given, no way to speak the Lord’s name

often enough, though we do try, and

especially now, as that dappled breast

breathes in the pines and heaven’s

windows in the north country, now spring has come,

are opened wide.

You can find this in Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver.

Evening Poetry, April 30

Wild, Wild

by Mary Oliver

This is what love is:

The dry rose bush the gardener, in his pruning, missed

Suddenly bursts into bloom.

A madness of delight; an obsession.

A holy gift, certainly,

But often, alas, improbable.

Why couldn’t Romeo have settled for someone else?

Why couldn’t Tristan and Isolde have refused

The shining cup

Which would have left peaceful the whole kingdom?

Wild sings the bird of the heart in the forests

Of our lives.

Over and over Faust, standing in the garden, doesn’t know

Anything that’s going to happen, he only sees

The face of Marguerite, which is irresistible.

And wild, wild sings the bird.

You can find this in Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver.

Evening Poetry, April 27

The World I Live In

by Mary Oliver

I have refused to live

locked in the orderly house of

reasons and proofs.

The world I live in and believe in

is wider than that. And anyway,

what’s wrong with Maybe?

You wouldn’t believe what once or

twice I have seen. I’ll just

tell you this:

only if there are angels in your head will you

ever, possibly, see one.

You can find this in Felicity.

Evening Poetry, April 20

Mornings At Blackwater

by Mary Oliver

For years, every morning, I drank
from Blackwater Pond.
It was flavored with oak leaves and also, no doubt,
the feet of ducks.

And always it assuaged me
from the dry bowl of the very far past.

What I want to say is
that the past is the past,
and the present is what your life is,
and you are capable
of choosing what that will be,
darling citizen.

So come to the pond,
or the river of your imagination,
or the harbor of your longing,
and put your lips to the world.

And live
your life.

You can find this poem in Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver.

Evening Poetry, April 7

Dancing in Mexico

by Mary Oliver

Not myself,

but Maria,

who, when her work is done,

tunes in the radio,

goes out into the garden,

picks up the front feet of the little dog Ricky,

and dances. She dances.

You can find this poem in Swan: Poems and Prose Poems.

Evening Poetry, March 20

Then Bluebird Sang

by Mary Oliver

Bluebird

slipped a little tremble

out of the triangle

of his mouth

and it hung in the air

until it reached my ear

like a froth or a frill

that Schumann

might have written in a dream.

Dear morning

you come

with so many angels of mercy

so wondrously disguised

in feathers, in leaves,

in the tongues of stones,

in the restless waters,

in the creep and the click

and the rustle

that greet me wherever I go

with their joyful cry: I’m still here, alive!

You can find this poem in Evidence.

Evening Poetry, February 18

The Riders

by Mary Oliver

When the Pony Express needed

riders, it advertised

a preference for orphans–

that way, no one was likely

to ask questions when the carriers failed

to arrive, or the frightened ponies

stumbled in with their dead

from the flanks of the prairies.

This detail from our country’s past

has no particular significance–it is only

a footnote. There were plenty

of orphans and the point of course

was to get the mail through, so the theory

was sound. And besides,

think of those rough, lean boys–

how light and hard they would ride

fleeing the great loneliness.

You can find this in Swan: Poems and Prose Poems.

Evening Poetry, January 28

When

by Mary Oliver

When it’s over, it’s over, and we don’t know

any of us, what happens then.

So I try not to miss anything.

I think, in my whole life, I have never missed

the full moon

or the slipper of its coming back.

Or, a kiss.

Well, yes, especially a kiss.

You can find this poem in Swan.