The evening of January 17, 2018, I posted the above photo with this quote:
“And mostly I’m grateful that I take this world so seriously.”
~Mary Oliver in “The Gift.”
My Facebook and Instagram feeds are filled with Mary quotes. She inspired me to pay attention and to be astonished. When we moved to Florida, I dreamed of meeting her. I will turn 70 in a week. It would have been the best birthday gift.
Yesterday, January 17, 2019, at the age of 83, Mary danced out of this world. She lived only an hour away, but I will never get to meet her now. My heart hurts, but I’m grateful she taught me to see and be amazed. I’m grateful for her legacy of unfancy poetry and essays. She was and is still a gift.
One tree is like another tree, but not too much. One tulip is like the next tulip, but not altogether. More of less like people–a general outline, then the stunning individual strokes. Hello Tom, hello Andy. Hello Archibald, Violet, and Clarissa Bluebell. Hello Lilian Willow, and Noah, the oak tree I have hugged and kissed every first day of spring for the last thirty seven years. And in reply its thousands of leaves tremble! What a life is ours! Doesn’t anybody in the world anymore want to get up in the
middle of the night and
I walk, all day, across the heaven-verging field.
In the beginning I was so young and such a stranger to myself I hardly existed. I had to go out into the world and see it and hear it and react to it, before I knew at all who I was, what I was, what I wanted to be. Wordsworth studied himself and found the subject astonishing. Actually what he studied was his relationship to the harmonies and also the discords of the natural world. That’s what created the excitement.
And whoever thinks these are worthy, breathy words I am writing down is kind. Writing is neither vibrant life nor docile artifact but a text that would put all its money on the hope of suggestion. Come with me into the field of sunflowers is a better line than anything you will find here, and the sunflowers themselves far more wonderful than any words about them.
~Mary Oliver’s first words in Upstream: Selected Essays
Why I Wake Early
Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who make the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and the crotchety–
best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with the warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light–
god morning, good morning, good morning.
Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindess.
~Mary Oliver in “Why I Wake Early,” her first poem in Why I Wake Early
Do you “know” Mary Oliver? What are some of your favorite poems / lines?