Requiem for One Wild and Precious Life

For Mary Oliver, American poet, lover of the natural world.

She was a woman I never met, but how I loved her words. How I admired her. Her world was full of magic, and her poems proved it. I don't know how hard she had to work to capture that magic that she saw in the world; to take its measure; to turn it into words. But I am forever grateful. It made me deeply happy to read her poems; to be inspired, again and again, by her expansive goodwill toward the world; by her insistence in the possibility of finding joy at every turn, if only you'd LOOK. 

Mary Oliver, American poet, died on this day. I would say that she Became One with the Universe; but I think she already had a handle on that when she was still on THIS side of the veil. Rather, as she might say, she stepped into a great Cottage of Darkness, full of curiosity to discover what might be waiting there. A new journey, I hope: a grand adventure. Something beautiful; something worthy of her eyes, her mind, her heart and soul. 

My great-aunt Minnie passed away quite a few years ago, at the ripe old age of 99. The morning after she died, there was a grand and glorious sunrise, full of magic and beauty. And I was so pleased that I could only think one thing: how happy I was that my dear aunt was witnessing its glory from the other side. And what a show that must have been! Oh that it shall be the same for you, Mary; lover of all things, poet of the natural world.

I will list some of my favorites of Mary Oliver's words here, but I'm sure you already know many of them, or have seen them quoted in the stories of her passing. About the wild geese, the marriage to amazement, the morning kindness, the letting go. Yes, maybe you know them already. But let's put them here to celebrate her one wild and precious life. Let's read them aloud, with joy.

"When it's over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms."

"You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on."

"Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it."

"Hello, sun in my face.
Hello you who made the morning and spread it over the fields . . .
Watch, now, how I start the day in happiness, in kindness."

"to live in this world
you must be able
to do three things
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go"

"I believe in kindness. Also in mischief.
Also in singing, especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed."

"If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love
you very much."

"Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift."

"Sometimes I need
only to stand
wherever I am
to be blessed."

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

The soundtrack: Pat Benatar, Precious Time.

P.S. Featured in the photo is the big sycamore at Centre Furnace Mansion, which I visit regularly. Yes, I too try to begin my morning in kindness; taking joy in the natural world that is so full of beauty and grand adventure to me. It is one of my favorite local trees, several hundred years old. And in this posting, I also celebrate ITS one wild and precious life.

Sign in or get an account to comment.