Authors: Mary Oliver
Tags: #nepalifiction, #TPB
New and Selected Poems Volume One
The Leaf and the Cloud
What Do We Know
Why I Wake Early
New and Selected Poems Volume Two
A Poetry Handbook
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First published in 2012 by The Penguin Press,
a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Copyright © Mary Oliver, 2012
All rights reserved
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LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING IN PUBLICATION DATA
A thousand mornings / Mary Oliver.
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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.
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 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.
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,
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.
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
Yes, I agree. You fuss over life with your clever
words, mulling and chewing on its meaning, while
we just live it.
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
POEM OF THE ONE WORLD
the beautiful white heron
was floating along above the water
and then into the sky of this
the one world
we all belong to
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
Which is why we have
songs of praise, songs of love, songs
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
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.
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
The back of the hand to
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.