“Messenger” by Mary Oliver

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

~ “Messenger” by Mary Oliver, from Thirst

5 thoughts on ““Messenger” by Mary Oliver

  1. If only…

    A season
    Like no other.

    If only…
    To share with others,
    To imbibe, to enrich, to take in,
    As water and sunlight pass through a prism
    wide as the sky.

    If only…
    To see all the colors of the universe –
    From the dark purples
    To elements of pure,
    Unadulterated white light.

    If only…
    I am able to squint my eyes
    Trying to imagine the essential gift,
    The ecstasy of the moment,
    Making it last through the physics
    of time and space.

    If only…
    To imagine
    Words floating gracefully
    In the coming Northern Lights.

    If only,
    To have the grace to see the concert,
    As it dances and telescopes
    into the nightscape
    And off the page…

    If only…
    To feel, to recapture
    The new, cherished season

    If only…
    My words
    Could possibly illustrate
    The richness
    Of a new season,
    Like no other,
    Humbled by the symphony
    of new life!.

    -Gerri Bain

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love that poem! The cornerstone to Mary Oliver’s appreciation of and love for the natural world around her was the power of her attention. She was awake to everything and was always astonished. Her sustained empathic attention to the land and its inhabitants inspired devotional poetry. In this interview, On Being’s Krista Tippett asks Mary Oliver about the role of attention in her work.

    Ms. Tippett: I’d like to talk about attention, which is another real theme that runs through your work, both the word and the practice. I know people associate you with that word. But I was interested to read that you began to learn that attention without feeling is only a report. That there is more to attention than for it to matter in the way you want it to matter. Say something about that learning.

    Ms. Oliver: You need empathy with it rather than just reporting. Reporting is for field guides. And they’re great. They’re helpful. But that’s what they are. They’re not thought provokers. They don’t go anywhere. And I say somewhere that attention is the beginning of devotion, which I do believe. But that’s it. A lot of these things are said but can’t be explained.

    I provide links to that interview and a transcript of it on my blog post of her poem https://theuncarvedblog.com/2019/11/28/mary-oliver-is-the-messenger-for-thanksgiving/.

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.