Saturday, May 23, 2009

Mary Oliver, my favorite poet

Mary Oliver is going to be at Beneroya Hall next week offering and evening of her poetry reading. I had to buy tickets a month in advance because when she was here two years ago, her tickets sold out so quickly that multitudes of people had postings on craigslist just hoping for tickets. You would have thought a rockstar was performing. Stephen King came for a reading that same year, same venue, he didn't have a sold out show. Funny. But there are scores of people who have no idea who this woman is.

Mary is an american poet who has lived in Provincetown, Mass. for 30 some odd years with her parnter, Molly, who recently passed a couple years ago. Mary has won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry which has a great focus on nature. Think Leaves of Grass but with no whining. She writes about ravens, turtles, ponds, cattails, hawks, bears, marshes and beaches with her dog. Her poetry enchants my spirit and inspires my senses.

Her books include Owls and Other Fantasies, House of Light, DreamWork, White Pine, West Wind, The Leaf and The Cloud and What Do We Know. She has also written five or so books of prose which include Blue Pastures, Rules for the Dance and Winter Hours.

From Thirst, her most recent book (written after Molly's death):

When I Am Among The Trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant fromt he hope of myself, in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, "Stay awhile."
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, " It's simple," they say,
"and you too have come
into this world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine."

From New and Selected Poems, Volume Two

Little Dog's Rhapsody in the Night

He puts his cheek against mine
and makes small, expressive sounds.
And when I am awake enough

he turns upside down, his four paws
in the air
and his eyes dark and fervent.

Tell me you love, he says.

Tell me again.

Could there be a sweeter arrangement? Over and over
he gets to ask it.
I get to tell it.

Also, 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 tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and the crotchety -

best preacher that ever was,
dear start, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darknness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light -
good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.

1 comment:

  1. As much as I love to read, poetry has never been something I've ever really gotten into. My first thoughts when I finished reading your post was, 'well, I can see why I'd go to hear her over Stephen King!' She invokes calmness and a closeness to God, in me. Nature does that for me. Stephen King on the other hand is horror. I've read a few of his books and found them to be quite disturbing. So maybe the world is putting out their preference for some peace and calm over the horrors and turmoil of the world, finally! I think I would get along just splendidly with Ms Oliver. After all, we're both Virgos. Her birthday is the day after mine, lol, or maybe it's the same day as mine! The poem about the puppy put a big smile on my face. Reading about nature made me think that I need to take a trip up to Signal Mtn. That's my place of meditation and getting close to God. There's such a peacefulness with nature. God's coloring book!
    Thanks for sharing. Once again, you made me step outside my own boundaries and explore the unknown. That my friend, is always a good thing!