The Friday Poem – ‘How Would You Live Then?’ by Mary Oliver

Thinking about work is thinking about choice. What decisions have you made? What remains? What if? There are always possibilities. The only limit is your imagination.

This week, the Friday Poem from Mary Oliver.

How Would You Live Then?

What if a hundred rose-breasted grosbeaks
     flew in circles around your head? What if
the mockingbird came into the house with you and
     became your advisor? What if
the bees filled your walls with honey and all
     you needed to do was ask them and they would fill
the bowl? What if the brook slid downhill just
     past your bedroom window so you could listen
to its slow prayers as you fell asleep? What if
     the stars began to shout their names, or to run
this way and that way above the clouds? What if
     you painted a picture of a tree, and the leaves
began to rustle, and a bird cheerfully sang
     from its painted branches? What if you suddenly saw
that the silver of water was brighter than the silver 
     of money? What if you finally saw
that the sunflowers, turning toward the sun all day
     and every day – who knows how, but they do it – were
more precious, more meaningful than gold?

Mary Oliver ‘Blue Iris: Poems and Essays’ Penguin Random House, 2006

The Friday Poem ‘Why I Wake Early’ by Mary Oliver

The first Friday Poem of 2018 is for the early risers, the folks who ‘seize the day’ as first light tints the sky in pastels. Poet Mary Oliver shares ‘Why I Wake Up Early’.

“Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.”

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 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 warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light–
good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.

Mary Oliver   ‘Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver’ Penguin Press, 2017

9780399563249

The Friday Poem ‘Fall Song’ by Mary Oliver

On Thursday those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere transitioned into fall. At the moment the sun was directly over the equator, the seasons changed. In celebration of change, the Friday Poem this week is Mary Oliver’s ‘Fall Song’.

Fall Song

Another year gone, leaving everywhere
its rich spiced residues: vines, leaves,

the uneaten fruits crumbling damply
in the shadows, unmattering back

from the particular island
of this summer, this NOW, that now is nowhere

except underfoot, moldering
in that black subterranean castle

of unobservable mysteries – roots and sealed seeds
and the wanderings of water. This

I try to remember when time’s measure
painfully chafes, for instance when autumn

flares out at the last, boisterous and like us longing
to stay – how everything lives, shifting

from one bright vision to another, forever
in these momentary pastures.

Mary Oliver, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and author, most recently of ‘Felicity’, a collection of poems

‘The World I Live In’ a poem by Mary Oliver

The Friday Poem this week is from Pulitzer Prize winning poet Mary Oliver‘s new collection, ‘Felicity’ published this fall. Merry Christmas!

The World I Live In

I have refused to live

locked in the orderly house of

reasons and proofs.

The world I live in and believe in

Is wider than that. And anyway,

what’s wrong with Maybe?

 

You wouldn’t believe what once or

twice I have seen. I’ll just

tell you this:

only if there are angels in your head will you

ever, possibly, see one.

Mary Oliver  ‘Felicity’  Penguin Press, 2015

The Journey, a poem by Mary Oliver

I find that many people ‘shape shift’ their lives to meet the expectations of others. That may be a short term personal gratification strategy, but it’s not one for the long haul. In the end you lose who you are, and it may take a while for your GPS to recalculate.

The Friday poem is ‘The Journey’ by Pulitzer Prize winning poet, Mary Oliver. The poem is included in the collection, ‘New and Selected Poems, Volume One’ published in 1992 and recognized with the National Book Award.

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.

Mary Oliver, 1986  First published in Dream Work, Atlantic Monthly Press. Reprinted in New and Selected Poems, Volume One, Beacon Press.