Tuesday, May 26, 2009
This is all that's left of a large, beautiful bouquet of peonies which gave me great pleasure every time I passed them this weekend.
This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready to break my heart
As the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers
and they open -
pools of lace,
white and pink -
and all day the black ants climb over them,
boring their deep and mysterious holes
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,
taking it away
to their dark, underground cities -
and all day
under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,
the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air,
their red stems holding
all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly,
and there it is again -
beauty the brave, the exemplary,
Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?
Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,
with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
- Mary Oliver
Monday, May 18, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
I received four new poetry books for my birthday last week from my son and daughter-in-law. As I was browsing through them last night, I was reminded of this poem my friend Anne forwarded to me last month:
How to Read a Poem: Beginner’s Manual
by Pamela Spiro Wagner
First, forget everything you have learned,
that poetry is difficult,
that it cannot be appreciated by the likes of you,
with your high school equivalency diploma,
your steel-tipped boots,
or your white-collar misunderstandings.
Do not assume meanings hidden from you:
the best poems mean what they say and say it.
To read poetry requires only courage
enough to leap from the edge
Treat a poem like dirt,
humus rich and heavy from the garden.
Later it will become the fat tomatoes
and golden squash piled high upon your kitchen table.
Poetry demands surrender,
language saying what is true,
doing holy things to the ordinary.
Read just one poem a day.
Someday a book of poems may open in your hands
like a daffodil offering its cup
to the sun.
When you can name five poets
without including Bob Dylan,
when you exceed your quota
and don’t even notice,
close this manual.