Mary Oliver’s Messenger
Mary Oliver’s Messenger

Mary Oliver’s Messenger

Poems arrive ready to begin.  Poets are only the transportation.

-Mary Oliver, “Humility”

In waking almost two hours too early the other morning, I found myself in the soft light of my meditation room.  I wasn’t ready to greet the treadmill or yoga mat so I sat in silence with my tea and pulled out all my books by Mary Oliver.  While my library of her works is small, the books are well-loved and well-read.

I don’t believe I could ever pick out a favorite poem, of hers or anyone else’s for that matter.  Words and images fill my heart and soul in different seasons of my life.  I can revisit them and an smile sentimentally at the friendship they offered during that time. I would never want one to feel more important than the other as all have sat with me through joy, change, and grief, as all good friends do.

In keeping with the spirit of this blog, I have chosen this poem this morning.  It is the first writing in her book Thirst.


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 not half-perfect?  Let me

keep my mind on what matters,

which is my work,

which is mostly standing sill 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.


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