“I Ask Percy How I Should Live My Life” by Mary Oliver *

Love, love, love, says Percy.
And hurry as fast as you can
along the shining beach, or the rubble, or the dust.

Then, go to sleep.
Give up your body heat, your beating heart.
Then, trust.

 

“I Ask Percy How I Should Live My Life” by Mary Oliver, via Red Bird: Poems, Beacon Press.

(originally shared 04/29/2016)

Mary Oliver and Percy. (Photo © 2005 by Rachel Giese Brown.)
Mary Oliver and Percy. (Photo © 2005 by Rachel Giese Brown.)

 


Ms. Oliver died yesterday, January 17, 2019. She was 83.

She is the reason Words for the Year exists.

She will be missed.


Krista Tippet did a beautiful (and rare) interview–“Listening to the World”–with Ms. Oliver in 2015. You may listen and read the transcript at OnBeing.org.

Maria Popova at Brain Pickings has often written on Ms. Oliver. Read Popova’s piece “Mary Oliver on What Attention Really Means and Her Moving Elegy for Her Soul Mate” and also listen to Ms. Oliver read her iconic poem “Wild Geese” (the first poem I ever posted here.)

“I Ask Percy How I Should Live My Life” by Mary Oliver

Love, love, love, says Percy.
And hurry as fast as you can
along the shining beach, or the rubble, or the dust.

Then, go to sleep.
Give up your body heat, your beating heart.
Then, trust.

 

“I Ask Percy How I Should Live My Life” by Mary Oliver, via Red Bird: Poems, Beacon Press.

Mary Oliver and Percy. (Photo © 2005 by Rachel Giese Brown.)
Mary Oliver and Percy. (Photo © 2005 by Rachel Giese Brown.)