Poetry Monday- “The Summer Day” by Mary Oliver
Poetry Monday! This week’s featured poet is Mary Oliver. Born in Ohio in 1935, Mary Oliver published her first book of poetry when she was 28, won the Pulitzer Prize for her fifth book, and continues to write today. She has spent most of her adult life in New England, and her poems are filled with reflections on the natural world in the region. Maxine Kumin called Mary Oliver “our indefatigable guide to the natural world, particularly to its lesser-known aspects.” Oliver has made her permanent home in Provincetown, Massachusetts–which, incidentally, is one of my favorite places. Provincetown sits right on the tip of Cape Cod–it is atmospheric and weather-torn and surrounded by sea, and I can see how its exposed beauty has inspired so many of Oliver’s lovely poems, like this one:
The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?