People who know me well, know I love the poetry of Mary Oliver. I am not sure when I first discovered her, but I am going to guess it was in December 1999 when The New Yorker published her poem “Winter At Herring Cove.” I clipped it out of the magazine and it finds a home in whatever Oliver book I am reading at the time. I usually read a poem by her everyday! I bought many of her books. Susan bought me one, “Dog Stories.” And her mom bought me one, “Blue Horses.” My writing has been influence by her—and others, Gary Snyder, for example, and the Bible. In remembrance of her:
Here are a few inspiring quotes from Mary Oliver, along with some photos of mine.
Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.
There are so many stories, more beautiful than answers.
Well, who doesn’t want the sun after the long winter?
And again this morning as always I am stopped as the world comes back wet and beautiful.
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
When it’s over, I want to say: all my life I was a bride married to amazement. I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
I tell you this to break your heart, by which I mean only that it break open and never close again to the rest of the world.
I held my breath as we do sometimes to stop time when something wonderful has touched us.
Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed.
The dream of my life is to lie down by a slow river and stare at the light in the trees – to learn something by being nothing.
Because of the dog’s joyfulness, our own is increased. It is no small gift. It is not the least reason why we should honor as well as love the dog of our own life, and the dog down the street, and all the dogs not yet born. What would the world be like without music or rivers or the green and tender grass? What would this world be like without dogs?
And this poem, “Wild Geese.”
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
And, “I Ask Percy How I Should Live Me Life:”
Love, love, love, says Percy.
And hurry as fast as you can
along the shining beach, or the rubble, or the dust.
Then, go to sleep.
Give up your body heat, your beating heart.