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01 April 2007

Read more poetry

Mary_oliverApril is National Poetry Month. What say we read some poetry this month?

I'll start with a poem, two lines of which are included in my very first post on 37days. I had the pleasure of hearing its author read this aloud to me last Friday evening. There were a few hundred lookers-on, but I swear she turned slightly to her left and looked down at me in the second row when this one was read, nodding her head and smiling at me knowingly as she got to the end. Or perhaps not. I'll just keep pretending that I am my own Forest Gump, appearing in history.

The Summer Day

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 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?

                    -Mary Oliver

There is just something about hearing a writer read their words aloud that seals them, takes them off the page into a fuller place, acknowledges the hidden nuances of phrasing and emphasis and meaning, both to the writer - and to the listener.

Do you have a favorite Mary Oliver poem you’d like to share?


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Hi Patti, I do love Mary Oliver. She was reading in Winston Salem at a tea last Thrusday. Some of us talked about trying to travel there to see her. I have a favortie poem that was recently read at my friend's 80th birthday party. I think it was about how to live a life, but I can't remember the name or much else. I've been trying to find it.

My son Josh runs the Clay Space Studio in the River Warehouse district of Asheville. He's working on a webpage. You can see some of his for sale pottery here

i've linked you to my blog for the must-see blogs for this week.
thank you,.
your blog is inspring.

Garrison Keillor held a poetry contest over the past few weeks for works about spring, reading 15 finalists during A Prairie Home Companion on Saturday night (we were in the Town Hall, NYC, audience, yippee!, in spite of my bronchitis...). Some were, funny some were cute, some were wonderful. This was my personal favorite (the other 14 are on the PHC home page,

Untitled poem by Linnea Engblom of Chapel Hill, NC
(Read more about Linnea)

its spring i dont need upper case
its spring punctuation is optional but i love exclamations!
okay here we go
no wonder people fall in love this time of year
wake up tomorrow and breathe deeply again
fall asleep in the rain
feel the wind around your sockless ankles and ears

dont dilute excitement let it overwhelm you
find a playground and swing on the tire swing
get muddy really really muddy
and make sure you wear white to make it really really fun

eat m&ms every single day even the peanut butter ones
dont control your dreams run along with them
take a journey
go left instead of right
right instead of forward
end up where you've never been

catch yourself loving

I too am a big fan of this poem. And I like the idea of posting favoirite poems for poetry month. I'm glad I came across your blog. I like it very much!

Hi Patti:

I've been a very bad reader. Haven't had the time or notion lately to read. But I'm here now and trying to catch up on your wonderful world.

This is the 'poem' I wrote that I use as my signature in my email.

The treasure that surrounds me does not glitter as gold;
Each has four hooves and a soft muzzle;
And warms me when I'm cold.

This poem is an ode to the tao of equus and to fulfilling my dream of starting my own equine rescue. We've just begun at Coastal Plains Rescue, Inc.

Yippeeee. Thanks for having such a safe place to share my world.

i read this post days ago and had to look around a bit, but i finally found my favorite Mary Oliver poem:

"The Journey"
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 it's 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 voices 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.

thanks patti, for getting me up to find this poem. i know now what i want put in my daughters graduation card.


Thank you for posting all of the lovely, thought-provoking poetry. It helps us to be transported to a place of peace and contemplativeness, away from the rush and chaos of everyday life.

May your day be blessed, just as you are a blessing to others!

uh-oh, type-o! about 2/3 of the way down in the above peom, the line should read "but little by little"-- sorry!

thanks to everyone for your comments - I've responded to each individually, but wanted to post a public thanks for taking the time to write!

and jylene, thanks for the correction - I've made it on your original posting of the poem, so all is well!

Hello Patti!

I just stumbled upon your blog today and truly felt inspired. It's funny, because I am a college student at JMU and recently started my own blog for a class assignment. I decided to write about poetry, because I have been writing poetry ever since I was little. My first post has one of my poems and a few poems by Mary Oliver. In learning about Oliver, I came across 37 days. I think it is wonderful and will read it often in hopes of gaining some inspiration myself! It must be a great feeling to know you touch the lives of many. Your blog is the first I have ever posted on! Thanks!



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