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.