Some people look at poetry as pretentious. Other’s look at the poetry of today as not “real” poetry, especially when speaking about “insta-poets.” You know them. You like their pictures and give them billions of hearts. I can be one of those people too. No shame. Some of the poetry of today is uncomplicated, easy to understand, and easy to digest. But if I had to pick a poet that I can truly understand without much fuss, that is Mary Oliver.
I came across Mary Oliver’s poems a while ago, perusing the bookstore, as many of us do. I was in an odd place in my life. Satisfied and unsatisfied at the same time. Now that I think of it, most of my 20’s have been that way, but that’s another story. I was running my finger across the spines hoping that a title would attract me when I came across Blue Iris.
I was immediately enraptured by her simple use of language, combining nature and the ordinary things in life. She just… understood. Oliver seemed to have taken Thoreau’s words and “went to the woods…to live deliberately” and applied them to her own life. Reading her words made me believe that she found it, that “it” we all search for.
I’m sad to hear of her passing but as cheesy as it sounds, she will live on in her peaceful poetry. I’ve included a few lines from some of my favorites. I highly suggest picking up one of her books and diving into the tranquility her words provide.
Here is a story
to break your heart.
Are you willing?
the loons came to our harbor
and died, one by one,
of nothing we could see.
...I tell you this
to break your heart,
by which I mean only
that it break open and never close again to the rest of the world.
Am I Not Among The Early Risers
Have I not loved as though the beloved could vanish at any moment,
or become preoccupied, or whisper a name other than mine
in the stretched curvatures of lust, or over the dinner table?
Have I ever taken good fortune for granted?
And then my all time favorite…
When Death Comes
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.
When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if i have made my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.