Sunday, August 12, 2018

Poetry Sunday: The Summer Day by Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver is a much-honored American poet, having won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. She is also very popular, which does not always follow from being honored by critics and their like. I think her popularity comes, at least in part, from the fact that her poems honestly celebrate pure pleasure and the intelligence of the senses.

This is one of her poems that I particularly like. She speaks for/to me when she writes, "I don't know exactly what a prayer is. I do know how to pay attention..."

If I have learned nothing else in my life, I have learned how to pay attention. 
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

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?

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