Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Summer Day by Mary Oliver

The Summer Day
By Mary Oliver

Who made the 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?

My house spider, suspended on her delicate web.


Wine and Words said...

I loved the poem. I wanted her to say at the end, it was a prayer...this walking through the grass, this focused attention on creation...I wanted her to discover it was prayer. So lovely. And then the spider. Awww Marion. Did you have to?

Love you!

erin said...

marion! i printed this poem out for the staff board this summer. we've never had pictures of our students but so many have come and gone and i remember too few. it was selfish but i wanted a means to remember their young faces and so i took pictures of everyone. and so i printed out the poem, which i planned to put in the bottom right corner, and i put as the header, a question to all of us, "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" the other adults at work thought the poem was gratuitous or silly but the question remains above all of our faces, "what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

how far we are from most other people, marion, to hold this poem with such value. and how this saddens me, while yet the poem gives me hope.


Marion said...

Annie, I see most poems as prayers to language. I know you don't like spiders. Thank God you didn't visit me in the summer because I have them all around the yard/carport. I won't let Ray kill them. I love, love, love my harmless house spiders except that they eat the occasional dragonfly. I respect them and they don't bite me. LOL! xoxo

Erin, I know and it's sad that so many people don't read or 'get' poetry. We have an "otherness" that most people don't have and don't understand. I thank God daily for the many poetry-loving friends I've found on the 'Net. My hand to your heart and to Annie's. I love you both so much. xoxo

Ben Ditty said...

Awe, how long have you had your house spider? :)

Ed Pilolla said...

oliver is so country smart, if that's an expression at all. she knows so much through innocence and experience. she knows the power of questions.
i evict spiders, too, but i can't say i'm a hundred percent on that.

Phoenix said...

Man... Mary Oliver gets me every time, and yet I own no collected works of hers. Do you a specific book of her poems to recommend? Otherwise I'll spend way too much on buying all of them...

The way she talks about prayer is in such a way that I find absolutely beautiful. I have found lately that I do not know how to pray as well as I thought because I have lost the ability to pay attention as much as I'd like, to myself, to stillness, to breath, to BEING.

I feel like remembering how to pray is like remembering how to get back to the deepest, brightest part of oneself.

Marion said...

Ben, I get new spiders every year. (Have you NOT read "Charlotte's Web" by E. B. White?!) Around the end of September they begin weaving an egg sac and they lay their hundreds of eggs, then die. In Spring, new spiders. I cry every damn Autumn over those spiders. xo

She sure is country smart, Ed. Or country wise, maybe. I know that most people dislike spiders. I understand that. I think my fascination goes back to "Charlotte's Web". LOL!

Tracy, that's a hard question to answer. She has a "New and Collected Poems 1 & 2" and I find that collections are always good to start. She won the Pulitzer for "American Primitive" in 1984. I have about 5 of her books and love them all. Phoenix, your life is a prayer. I don't even think we need words to pray, just the intention is enough. xoxo

Kelly said...

Lovely photo at Hodges Gardens. Been over 30 years since I've been there!

Ben Ditty said...

Oh, sorry, I forgot.

Phoenix said...

Marion - thank you! I'll add that to my next Amazon batch :)