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Authors: Mary Oliver

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A Thousand Mornings

BOOK: A Thousand Mornings
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S
ELECT
T
ITLES
ALSO
BY
M
ARY
O
LIVER

POETRY

American Primitive

Dream Work

New and Selected Poems Volume One

White Pine

The Leaf and the Cloud

What Do We Know

Why I Wake Early

New and Selected Poems Volume Two

Swan

PROSE

Blue Pastures

Winter Hours

A Poetry Handbook

THE PENGUIN PRESS

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3 (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

Penguin Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd)

Penguin Books Australia Ltd, 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd)

Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi – 110 017, India

Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd)

Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices:

80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

First published in 2012 by The Penguin Press,

a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

Copyright © Mary Oliver, 2012

All rights reserved

The acknowledgments
constitutes an extension of this copyright page.

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING IN PUBLICATION DATA

Oliver, Mary.

A thousand mornings / Mary Oliver.

p. cm.

ISBN 978-1-101-59597-8

I. Title.

PS3565.L5T54 2012

811'.54—dc23 2012027310

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

 

For

Anne Taylor

CONTENTS

Also by Mary Oliver

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

Epigraph

 

I GO DOWN TO THE SHORE

I HAPPENED TO BE STANDING

FOOLISHNESS? NO, IT’S NOT

THE GARDENER

AFTER I FALL DOWN THE STAIRS AT THE GOLDEN TEMPLE

IF I WERE

GOOD-BYE, FOX

POEM OF THE ONE WORLD

AND BOB DYLAN TOO

THREE THINGS TO REMEMBER

HURRICANE

TODAY

THE FIRST TIME PERCY CAME BACK

LINES WRITTEN IN THE DAYS OF GROWING DARKNESS

BLAKE DYING

THE MOCKINGBIRD

THE MOTH, THE MOUNTAINS, THE RIVERS

A THOUSAND MORNINGS

AN OLD STORY

HUM, HUM

I HAVE DECIDED

WAS IT NECESSARY TO DO IT?

GREEN, GREEN IS MY SISTER’S HOUSE

THE INSTANT

THE WAY OF THE WORLD

EXTENDING THE AIRPORT RUNWAY

TIDES

OUT OF THE STUMP ROT, SOMETHING

IN OUR WOODS, SOMETIMES A RARE MUSIC

THE MORNING PAPER

THE POET COMPARES HUMAN NATURE TO THE OCEAN FROM WHICH WE CAME

ON TRAVELING TO BEAUTIFUL PLACES

THE MAN WHO HAS MANY ANSWERS

LIFE STORY

“FOR I WILL CONSIDER MY DOG PERCY”

VARANASI

Note

Acknowledgments

The life that I could still live, I should live, and the thoughts that I could still think, I should think.

—C. G. Jung,
The Red Book

Anything worth thinking about is worth singing about.

—Bob Dylan,
The Essential Interviews

I GO DOWN TO THE SHORE

I go down to the shore in the morning

and depending on the hour the waves

are rolling in or moving out,

and I say, oh, I am miserable,

what shall—

what should I do? And the sea says

in its lovely voice:

Excuse me, I have work to do.

I HAPPENED TO BE STANDING

I don’t know where prayers go,

or what they do.

Do cats pray, while they sleep

half-asleep in the sun?

Does the opossum pray as it

crosses the street?

The sunflowers? The old black oak

growing older every year?

I know I can walk through the world,

along the shore or under the trees,

with my mind filled with things

of little importance, in full

self-attendance. A condition I can’t really

call being alive.

Is a prayer a gift, or a petition,

or does it matter?

The sunflowers blaze, maybe that’s their way.

Maybe the cats are sound asleep. Maybe not.

While I was thinking this I happened to be standing

just outside my door, with my notebook open,

which is the way I begin every morning.

Then a wren in the privet began to sing.

He was positively drenched in enthusiasm,

I don’t know why. And yet, why not.

I wouldn’t persuade you from whatever you believe

or whatever you don’t. That’s your business.

But I thought, of the wren’s singing, what could this be

if it isn’t a prayer?

So I just listened, my pen in the air.

FOOLISHNESS? NO, IT’S NOT

Sometimes I spend all day trying to count the leaves on a single tree. To do this I have to climb branch by branch and write down the numbers in a little book. So I suppose, from their point of view, it’s reasonable that my friends say: what foolishness! She’s got her head in the clouds again.

But it’s not. Of course I have to give up, but by then I’m half crazy with the wonder of it—the abundance of the leaves, the quietness of the branches, the hopelessness of my effort. And I am in that delicious and important place, roaring with laughter, full of earth-praise.

THE GARDENER

Have I lived enough?

Have I loved enough?

Have I considered Right Action enough, have I

come to any conclusion?

Have I experienced happiness with sufficient gratitude?

Have I endured loneliness with grace?

I say this, or perhaps I’m just thinking it.

Actually, I probably think too much.

Then I step out into the garden,

where the gardener, who is said to be a simple man,

is tending his children, the roses.

AFTER I FALL DOWN THE STAIRS AT THE GOLDEN TEMPLE

For a while I could not remember some word

I was in need of,

and I was bereaved and said: where are you,

beloved friend?

IF I WERE

There are lots of ways to dance and to spin, sometimes it just starts my feet first then my entire body, I am spinning no one can see it but it is happening. I am so glad to be alive, I am so glad to be loving and loved. Even if I were close to the finish, even if I were at my final breath, I would be here to take a stand, bereft of such astonishments, but for them.

If I were a Sufi for sure I would be one of the spinning kind.

GOOD-BYE FOX

He was lying under a tree, licking up the shade.

Hello again, Fox, I said.

And hello to you too, said Fox, looking up and

not bounding away.

You’re not running away? I said.

Well, I’ve heard of your conversation about us. News

travels even among foxes, as you might know or not know.

What conversation do you mean?

Some lady said to you, “The hunt is good for the fox.”

And you said, “Which fox?”

Yes, I remember. She was huffed.

So you’re okay in my book.

Your book! That was in my book, that’s the difference

between us.

Yes, I agree. You fuss over life with your clever

words, mulling and chewing on its meaning, while

we just live it.

Oh!

Could anyone figure it out, to a finality? So

why spend so much time trying. You fuss, we live.

And he stood, slowly, for he was old now, and

ambled away.

POEM OF THE ONE WORLD

This morning

the beautiful white heron

was floating along above the water

and then into the sky of this

the one world

we all belong to

where everything

sooner or later

is a part of everything else

which thought made me feel

for a little while

quite beautiful myself.

AND BOB DYLAN TOO

“Anything worth thinking about is worth

singing about.”

Which is why we have

songs of praise, songs of love, songs

of sorrow.

Songs to the gods, who have

so many names.

Songs the shepherds sing, on the

lonely mountains, while the sheep

are honoring the grass, by eating it.

The dance-songs of the bees, to tell

where the flowers, suddenly, in the

morning light, have opened.

A chorus of many, shouting to heaven,

or at it, or pleading.

Or that greatest of love affairs, a violin

and a human body.

And a composer, maybe hundreds of years dead.

I think of Schubert, scribbling on a café

napkin.

Thank you, thank you.

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.

HURRICANE

It didn’t behave

like anything you had

ever imagined. The wind

tore at the trees, the rain

fell for days slant and hard.

The back of the hand

to everything. I watched

the trees bow and their leaves fall

and crawl back into the earth.

As though, that was that.

This was one hurricane

I lived through, the other one

was of a different sort, and

lasted longer. Then

I felt my own leaves giving up and

falling.
The back of the hand to

everything.
But listen now to what happened

to the actual trees;

toward the end of that summer they

pushed new leaves from their stubbed limbs.

It was the wrong season, yes,

but they couldn’t stop. They

looked like telephone poles and didn’t

care. And after the leaves came

blossoms. For some things

there are no wrong seasons.

Which is what I dream of for me.

BOOK: A Thousand Mornings
10.37Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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