The older I get, the more I am (to my surprise) drawn to poetry. When I read the Bible, I spend more and more time in the Psalms. A few years ago, I shared my favorite poems by Rainer Maria Rilke. Recently, I finished Mary Oliver’s book on “Devotions.”
Mary Oliver is best known for her nature poetry, and has been awarded a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award. For those who don’t know anything about her, here is a rare interview on my favorite radio program / podcast, On Being.
I’m tempted to comment, but over the next week or so, I plan to just share some of my favorites of Mary Oliver’s poems. They speak for themselves.
Here’s the first, called “Swan.”
“Did you too see it, drifting, all night on the black river?
Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air,
an armful of white blossoms,
a perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned
into the bondage of its wings: a snowbank, a bank of lilies
biting the air with its black beak?
Did you hear it, fluting and whistling
a shrill dark music, like the rain pelting the trees,
like a waterfall
knifing down the black ledges?
And did you see it, finally, just under the clouds –
a white cross streaming across the sky, its feet
like black leaves, its wings like the stretching light
of the river?
And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?”