Friday, September 27, 2019

Poetry Friday: Mary Oliver Among the Trees

The poem I’m posting for today's Poetry Friday is pure Mary Oliver. Along with Kay Ryan, Oliver is the poet whose work I hope children learn to love as they become young adults, and I've chosen  “When I Am Among the Trees” because it does what a poem does best:
  • Takes something ordinary and makes it extraordinary
  • Starts exactly where it should, with real-world details rather than abstractions, by naming the specific trees - willows, honey locusts, beeches, oaks pine
  • Has the courage to be full-hearted and to address life’s large complications. 
I found Oliver’s poem recently while reading Maria Popova’s Brainpickings. It moved me because I know that this fall I’ll be taking many walks among trees - here in the Pacific Northwest the maples are already beginning the turn from green to red - it’s a wonder-filled season for walking. 
Some of the walks will begin at lunch time, because I love to see the kids at Columbia Elementary - just around the block from our house - racing around full of the dickens on the playground during lunch recess. Maybe I’ll head down to the fishermans’ terminal. Maybe past that cedar-shingled house on North St. that always reminds me of my years in Berkeley. Or maybe west on Connecticut St. to see the bicycle nailed up in a tree, the one that’s kiddie-corner from the garden decorated with pieces of an old boiler that blew up....

Chances are I’ll collect a few leaves, a few acorns, a few pine cones along the way. And I’ll think about Mary Oliver, how she trained both her body and her soul to see the world. I’ll consider how the trees might help me fill with light. 

  Hope you have some trees to walk among, too. 

by Mary Oliver
When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.
I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.
Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”
Mary Oliver
Today’s Poetry Friday host is Carol at Beyond LiteracyLink. Head over there to see what other people have posted.