Friday, May 13, 2016

Poetry Friday -- Mary Oliver


My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird —
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

~ Mary Oliver, born in 1935, American poet

When what I typically call my work becomes just a bit overwhelming, it's good to remember what my work really is (or should be).

Violet has this week's Poetry Friday Roundup at Violet Nesdoly | Poems.


  1. I. LOVE. THIS.
    And the photograph too!
    Going to print it out and hang it over my desk today!
    Because work is totally out of control.

  2. Thank you Mary Lee for anchoring my Friday with a week to go and mounds of work ahead.

  3. Beautiful words, but don't you love the title, too? Thanks Mary Lee, a poem for every day, but especially spring.

  4. Good reminder to "keep my mind on what matters", Mary Lee. When my work/family/anxiety over turning 50 ("Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect?") consumes me, I will think of Mary Oliver...and you. Thank you. =)

  5. Mary Oliver is so good at delivering course corrections, isn't she? I love her lists--even the random items make one sit up and take notice. Beautiful!

  6. Mary Oliver grounds my soul.

  7. Love this...thanks for the reminder.

  8. Mary Oliver's poem is a gift tonight. Thank you, Mary Lee, for delivering the perfect package.

  9. Mary Lee, a shining jewel of a post. Love Mary Oliver. I'm in the middle of American Primitive after reading the Swan. Wow. Just wow.

  10. Anonymous6:42 AM

    Another reason to love the world? Here is Mary Oliver writing this glorious poem, and here is Mary Lee, so smart and generous to share it with us. Much gratitude to you for this beauty.

  11. "which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished." Mary Oliver is a genius. Thank you, Mary Lee!

  12. There's nothing more I can add to what's already been said! Many thanks!

  13. One of my favorite Oliver's. Simply profound.

  14. Oh yes. I want to be "standing still and learning to be astonished".

  15. Learning to be astonished <-- my favorite line in the poet's job description!

  16. I also love "standing still and learning to be astonished", for that is what I love most about this "job"!


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