Friday, March 24, 2017

Poetry Friday -- Get Started Immediately

by Mary Oliver
(in Blue Horses)

I know, you never intended to be in this world.
But you’re in it all the same.

So why not get started immediately.

I mean, belonging to it.
There is so much to admire, to weep over.

And to write music or poems about.

Bless the feet that take you to and fro.
Bless the eyes and the listening ears.
Bless the tongue, the marvel of taste.
Bless touching.

You could live a hundred years, it’s happened.
Or not.
I am speaking from the fortunate platform
of many years,
none of which, I think, I ever wasted.
Do you need a prod?
Do you need a little darkness to get you going?
Let me be as urgent as a knife, then,
and remind you of Keats,
so single of purpose and thinking, for a while,
he had a lifetime.

John Keats, who died at the age of twenty-five, had perhaps the most remarkable career of any English poet. He published only fifty-four poems, in three slim volumes and a few magazines.

I've had my prod. I've had a little darkness to get me going. And indeed, "There is so much to admire, to weep over." What a beautiful world. What an amazing gift life is.

It's good to be back. Catherine has this week's Poetry Friday roundup at Reading to the Core.

**Edited to add A. E. Houseman's version of this theme, the poem for today at The Writer's Almanac, a poem I am glad to have memorized so that I can hug it whenever need be. (The photo is an apricot tree, but it will do in a pinch...)

A Shropshire Lad, II
by A. E. Housman

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.


  1. Mary Oliver, poet laureate of Unitarian Universalists (whether she accepts the role or not), takes me again, "urgent as a knife" to an unsentimental place of raw knowing, simple doing. "Why not get started immediately." No question.

    Welcome back, Mary Lee. <3

  2. Such a good reminder, we're in it, we're in for it. We might as well begin it.

  3. All we have is today! Go forth and live your poem! Wise wise thoughts from Ms. Oliver... thank you Mary Lee. xo

  4. Two beautiful poems -- thank you for the inspiration and the prod. And nice to have you back!

  5. "About the woodlands I will go" as long as I can, a good reminder not to ignore those cheery trees, and all of it. Thanks, Mary Lee, glad to see you here.

  6. Beautiful post, Mary Lee. My daughter was just talking about Keats the other day, and what a shame it was he died so young. I posted yesterday about an artist who died in the very early days of WWI. It really does inspire one to make the most of belonging to the world. (I hope Mary Oliver lives forever!)

  7. I would write something quick about these, but they deserve more. So I will read them again...and again.

    Just so you know, some words were used from your poem to use in the new Scavenger Hunt today!

  8. Sometimes it's those moments of darkness that give us the spark we need to move forward. Onward and upward!

  9. Why not, indeed! Bring on the wonder.

  10. It seems like we're all thinking along the same lines today which is to appreciate your life. I've had my share of "darkness" as most of us have, but we can choose to use it to bring forth the light!

  11. Going lightly from here with new appreciation for love, laughter, living, Mary.
    This is a tonic.

  12. Yikes: "Do you need a little darkness to get you going?" - we have a lot of darkness right now...we have motivation to get going.

  13. "Do you need a prod?" - Your post and Oliver's poem is that prod. Thank you, Mary Lee. =)

  14. Anonymous8:28 PM

    Hoping your darkness is broken by light, Mary Lee. Welcome back, and thanks for sharing this rousing poem.

  15. You are good friend to know....and a good prod...but there has to be a better name for it than that. You are a good reminder to seize life and stick to it with all you've got....hopefully, with a pen and paper. Nice visiting you today!

  16. Welcome back, Mary Lee - such a rich offering, and many thanks for sharing. (My stepdad's aunt actually turned 100 today, and there's Jama's father... but these are exceptions, aren't they? Best to heed the advice of these poets! And your lovely heart.)

  17. "Bless touching." You have touched and blessed us all with this Mary Oliver poem. Thank you. Which one is the Fourth sign of the Zodiac?

  18. I love Mary Oliver! And this poem is such a good reminder to get going with each day.

  19. Oh, she is a wonder. Thank you for sharing this. I often think about the shortness of life. A productivity podcast I was listening to yesterday said it more baldly. "You are going to die. What do you want to make sure you do before that happens." Whew!

  20. What Heidi said. Oliver sends a message we need in times of darkness. "There is so much" is a call to action. Thank you Mary Lee.

  21. Yes, sometimes it takes a prod. I love that you have shared this poem by Mary Oliver. She is a master at sounding the charge.

  22. Two wonderful choices. I'm glad you're back, too!

  23. Anonymous6:05 PM

    So happy you're back, Mary Lee. Thank you for this inspiring reminder that "There is so much to admire, to weep write...poems about."

  24. As one not far from my three score and ten, a hearty amen to finding those cherries hung with snow and speaking those blessings.

  25. Luckily for me, I saw the cherry blossoms blooming in Virginia and that gave me hope that spring would be my first sight when I arrived back on Long Island. I am so glad to see you here. I missed some conversations with you, Mary Lee. BTW - Do you have a winter image poem that you would like me to include in the gallery?


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