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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Mary Oliver has just died!


The post I published here in the wee hours of this day is one I actually wrote the other week but I had scheduled it for publication this morning as it mostly discusses a silly holiday that takes place today.

My morning and afternoon have been spent reading over some of Mary Oliver's  poetry to prepare for an upcoming opportunity. Most of her poems that I've read have dealt with birds and other animals which I've referenced here within my blog. It is only today that I discovered her poem, Flare, and here is a passage (from stanza 12):

When loneliness comes stalking, go into the fields, consider
the orderliness of the world. Notice
something you have never noticed before,

like the tambourine sound of the snow-cricket
whose pale green body is no longer than your thumb.

Stare hard at the hummingbird, in the summer rain,
shaking the water-sparks from its wings.

Let grief be your sister, she will whether or no.
Rise up from the stump of sorrow, and be green also,
like the diligent leaves.

A lifetime isn't long enough for the beauty of this world
and the responsibilities of your life.

Scatter your flowers over the graves, and walk away.
Be good-natured and untidy in your exuberance.

In the glare of your mind, be modest.
And beholden to what is tactile, and thrilling.

Live with the beetle, and the wind.

This is the dark bread of the poem.
This is the dark and nourishing bread of the poem.

After coming upon this poem, I did even more research and came across an interview she had with Maria Shriver.

As admirers of Oliver's work know, one of her most famous quotes within a poem (A Summer's Day) re birds asks the question, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

And in the interview Shriver asks Oliver about this. Here's the passage:

"Maria Shriver: One line of yours I often quote is, "What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" What do you think you have done with your one wild and precious life? 
Mary Oliver: I used up a lot of pencils."

In any event, after doing all my research about Mary Oliver for my upcoming project, I headed to Twitter to post an update about it and that when I learned that Mary Oliver had died today — during the very hours I was working on a project about her!

It feels a bit eerie to have been spending a few hours with Oliver via her work and those who have written about her. For now, I'm reflecting on the words I found during my morning research. They were made by an anonymous person several years ago re the poem, Flare.

"This poem covers a range of topics but ultimately I believe the message is that life is fleeting, so we shouldn't dwell. It emphasizes cherishing the present moment, following the example that nature sets for us. It encourages me to observe nature and take in the ways of animals who don't pity themselves or focus on the negative. Those are the things that stick out to me about it, anyway."

I think these are lovely ones to reflect on, especially for those who will be mourning Mary Oliver.

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