Mary Oliver’s poem The Summer Day + the four reminders

Here’s another attempt to paraphrase the four reminders, aka the four mind-turning Reflections, into my own words:

  1. It’s a pretty unique and awesome thing to be born a human being;
  2. We don’t live forever;
  3. What we think and do affects our experience; and
  4. No matter how hard we try, we’re going to experience suffering in one way or another.

These always remind me of the last few lines of Mary Oliver’s poem The Summer Day:

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?

Here she reads the entire poem, or you can read it below:

Continue reading “Mary Oliver’s poem The Summer Day + the four reminders”

The stars sing too / I know they know me back

Back in April an acquaintance shared a song she’d just released:

This part in particular really hits me:

I talk to the stars I know they know me back
You talk to the dark I know it holds you back

Then, just last week, my favorite English teacher from high school shared a Mary Oliver poem with me (see below, thanks Ellen!). I’d like to imagine ARA’s song was inspired by this poem, and in particular, this line:

So fancy is the world, who knows, maybe the stars sing too,

Here’s the whole thing:

This World
by Mary Oliver

I would like to write a poem about the world that has in it
nothing fancy.
But it seems impossible.
Whatever the subject, the morning sun
glimmers it.
The tulip feels the heat and flaps its petals open and becomes a star.
The ants bore into the peony bud and there is a dark
pinprick well of sweetness.
As for the stones on the beach, forget it.
Each one could be set in gold.
So I tried with my eyes shut, but of course the birds
were singing.
And the aspen trees were shaking the sweetest music
out of their leaves.
And that was followed by, guess what, a momentous and
beautiful silence
as comes to all of us, in little earfuls, if we’re not too
hurried to hear it.
As for spiders, how the dew hangs in their webs
even if they say nothing, or seem to say nothing.
So fancy is the world, who knows, maybe they sing.
So fancy is the world, who knows, maybe the stars sing too,
and the ants, and the peonies, and the warm stones,
so happy to be where they are, on the beach, instead of being
locked up in gold.

Continue reading “The stars sing too / I know they know me back”

The Journey: a poem by Mary Oliver

Here is a poem that Spring Washam included in her 2017 book, A Fierce Heart: Finding Strength, Courage, And Wisdom in Any Moment. I love how it dovetails with William Stafford’s The Way It Is:

The Journey
by Mary Oliver

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 voice 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.

Continue reading “The Journey: a poem by Mary Oliver”