Friday, May 14, 2010

Poetry Friday: Mary Oliver's Reckless Poem

Be yourself. How many times have we been admonished---by movies, books, and talk shows---to obey that ridiculous order?

I like Mary Oliver's suggestion better: Be other. Grow leaves from your fingertips.

Reckless Poem
by Mary Oliver

Today again I am hardly myself.
It happens over and over.
It is heaven-sent.

It flows through me
like the blue wave.
Green leaves – you may believe this or not –
have once or twice
emerged from the tips of my fingers

deep in the woods,
in the reckless seizure of spring.

Though, of course, I also know that other song,

the rest is here

Poetry Friday is hosted today by the always fabulous Jama Rattigan at alphabet soup


  1. Mmm. Like this. It's a freeing sort of poem, freeing like giving up the phrase "write what you know."

  2. Mary Oliver puts words to the humming in my soul.

    I like this one, too:

    The Journey

    One day you finally knew
    what you had to do, and began,
    though the voices around you
    kept shouting
    their bad advice--
    though the whole house
    began to tremble
    and you felt the old tug
    at your ankles.
    "Mend my life!"
    each voice cried.
    But you didn't stop.
    You knew what you had to do,
    though the wind pried
    with its stiff fingers
    at the very foundations,
    though their melancholy
    was terrible.
    It was already late
    enough, and a wild night,
    and the road full of fallen
    branches and stones.
    But little by little,
    as you left their voices behind,
    the stars began to burn
    through the sheets of clouds,
    and there was a new voice
    which you slowly
    recognized as your own,
    that kept you company
    as you strode deeper and deeper
    into the world,
    determined to do
    the only thing you could do--
    determined to save
    the only life you could save.

  3. Ooh. Thanks for this. This poem really spoke to me today, since I've been on retreat in New Hampshire this week, which has involved daily hikes through the woods. I know those green-leaved fingertips well.

    But it was this line that stopped me short:

    And I thought: if she lives her life with all her strength
    is she not wonderful and wise?

    I am going to ponder that for the next few minutes here. And then again later.

  4. This is new to me. I love it. Thank you.

  5. Sara,

    I love "the sweet passion of one-ness," humans are part of the larger nature of rocks, trees, and animals.

    Once heard a talk about rocks. Rocks view humans as living in fast forward mode. When a rock is thousands of years old, then a human's mere 80-100 years, seems to move by quickly.

    Perhaps, "the other" is just a part of us we haven't discovered or acknowledged.

    Laura Evans
    all things poetry

  6. Mary Oliver never fails to make me think and feel in new ways.


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