Friday, January 25, 2019

Poetry Friday: In the MIddle of Winter, A Summer Day

Image result for mary oliver
Well, I've had the holidays so I've not posted recently. I've had a busy few weeks. And...and, and. Excuses, excuses.  But the news that Mary Oliver died has nudged me into a Poetry Friday post.
I can sometimes be cynical. I can sometimes be satisfied with what amounts to clever wordplay  in my own poetry. I'm terrified of sentimentality. But the poem you see below, written by Mary Oliver, full of sentiment, is not sentimental. It's also more direct with its final question than I normally like, being a fan of indirection. Still, I like it. It's clean and clear - and it's clearly felt. The description of the grasshopper is not too embroidered - it's fresh and clean. Strong descriptions which are free of aggressive adjectives are rare. This poem has been a favorite of mine for quite a few years and - since the death of my mom - has floated up to the surface again. Now it's coupled in my mind with the death of the poet.

Here it is, hope it gives you pause, and hope you enjoy it.

The Summer Day

Who made this world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean -
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down -
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

                                      -- Mary Oliver

Poetry Friday is being hosted this week at Going to Walden. Head over there to see what other people have posted.