Mary Oliver: Devotions

Mary Oliver: Devotions


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2. There are many ways to perish, or to flourish. How old pain, for example, can stall us at the threshold of function. Memory: a golden bowl, or a basement without light. For which reason the nightmare comes with its painful story and says: you need to know this. Some memories I would give anything to forget. Others I would not give up upon the point of death, they are the bright hawks of my life. Still, friends, consider stone, that is without the fret of gravity, and water that is without anxiety. And the pine trees that never forget their recipe for renewal. And the female wood duck who is looking this way and that way for her children. And the snapping turtle who is looking this and that way also. This is the world. way And consider, always, every day, the determination of the grass to grow despite the unending obstacles.

Note: Part of: Evidence

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MYSTERIES, YES Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous to be understood, How grass can be nourishing in the mouths of the lambs, How rivers and stones are forever in allegiance with gravity while we ourselves dream of rising. How two hands touch and the bonds will never be broken, How people come, from delight or the scars of damage, to the comfort of a poem. Let me keep my distance, always, from those who think they have the answers. Let me keep company always with those who say "Look!" and laugh in astonishment, and bow their heads.

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Two or three times in my life I discovered love, Each time it seemed to solve everything. Each time it solved a great many things but not everything. Yet left me as grateful as if it had indeed, and thoroughly, solved everything.

Note: Part of Sometimes

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WHY I WAKE EARLY Hello, sun in my face. Hello, you who make the morning and spread it over the fields and into the faces of the tulips and the nodding morning glories, and into the windows of, even, the miserable and the crotchetybest preacher that ever was, dear star, that just happens to be where you are in the universe to keep us from ever-darkness, to ease us with warm touching, to hold us in the great hands of lightgood morning, good morning, good morning. Watch, now, how I start the day in happiness, in kindness.

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THE OLD POETS OF CHINA Wherever I am, the world comes after me. It offers me its busyness. It does not believe that I do not want it. Now I understand why the old poets of China went so far and high into the mountains, then crept into the pale mist.

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CAN YOU IMAGINE? For example, what the trees do not only in lightning storms or the watery dark of a summer night or under the white nets of winter but now, and now, and now-whenever we're not looking. Surely you can't imagine they just stand there looking the way they look when we're looking; surely you can't imagine they don't dance, from the root up, wishing to travel a little, not cramped so much as wanting a better view, or more sun, or just as avidly more shade-surely you can't imagine they just stand there loving every minute of it; the birds or the emptiness, the dark rings of the years slowly and without a sound thickening, and nothing different unless the wind, and then only in its own mood, comes to visit, surely you can't imagine patience, and happiness, like that.

THREE THINGS TO REMEMBER As long as you're dancing, you can break the rules. Sometimes breaking the rules is just extending the rules. Sometimes there are no rules.

DON'T HESITATE If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don't hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty If of lives and whole towns destroyed or about to be. We are not wise, and not very often kind. And much can never be redeemed. Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this is its way of fighting back, that sometimes something happens better than all the riches or power in the world. It could be anything, but very likely you notice it in the instant when love begins. Anyway, that's often the case. Anyway, whatever it is, don't be afraid of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.

MORNINGS AT BLACKWATER For years, every morning, I drank from Blackwater Pond. It was flavored with oak leaves and also, no doubt. the feet of ducks. And always it assuaged me from the dry bowl of the very far past. What I want to say is that the past is the past, and the present is what your life is, and you are capable of choosing what that will be, darling citizen. So come to the pond, or the river of your imagination, or the harbor of your longing, and put your lips to the world. And live your life.