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  • December 1st, 2006 | 3:38 AM
Poetry Friday - Mary Oliver

I am resurfacing only briefly because I don't want to let another Poetry Friday go by without posting (even though this is a late Thursday writing.) This poem speaks to me on so many levels.  I hope to post updates soon but for now, enjoy some Mary Oliver.


One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles. 

"Mend my life!"
each voice cried. 

But you didn't stop. 
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible. 

It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones. 

But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.
             ~ ~ ~ Mary Oliver
There are so many stories only you can tell.Tell them, please.


( 13 comments — Leave comment )
December 1st, 2006 06:56 am (UTC)
Susan, I have never heard of Mary Oliver (have I?) nor have I ever read this poem so when I tell you her words just cut me into pieces you know I speak from my gut. I hear you and I feel you in this essay and please know it mirrors my moment in life as well. Totally wowed.

Be good, sweetie.

December 1st, 2006 02:39 pm (UTC)
Oh my goodness, Pamela. Get thee to a bookstore. Or at least visit

http://www.allspirit.co.uk/maryoliver.html or http://mclibrary.nhmccd.edu/lit/oliver.html and learn more about her. I think you would also enjoy her poem WILD GEESE.

At various times in my life, this poem has been the one that helped me get back on track.
December 1st, 2006 01:16 pm (UTC)
I of course don't know what's going on with you recently, as you haven't told me, but I see the message in your poem and hope that it helps you in this time.

December 1st, 2006 02:41 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Kelly. It isn't anything "omigosh how I will I survive" but more "omigosh I am so overwhelmed" and there are not enough hours in the day. I miss being here but in two weeks I have shutdown and I will be off work for 19 days!
December 1st, 2006 02:06 pm (UTC)
That's gorgeous, Susan. I love Mary Oliver.

And I echo Kelly's sentiments.
December 1st, 2006 02:42 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Life is even more insane than usual. I sure miss all of you. And this poem, bang, straight to the heart.
December 1st, 2006 04:32 pm (UTC)
Susan, thanks for posting these poems. Poetry has always intimidated me (I felt too stupid to understand) but these little doses you share are helping me ease into a cautious enjoyment.

Hope life calms for you a bit.
December 1st, 2006 05:40 pm (UTC)
I've always loved this one, too. Thanks!
Jules (from Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast)
December 1st, 2006 08:44 pm (UTC)
Powerful poem. Thanks! I'll have to look her up.
December 2nd, 2006 04:54 pm (UTC)
That poem speaks to me too, my friend. I heart Mary Oliver. I heart you {{}}.
January 22nd, 2008 09:11 pm (UTC)
The Journey
The Oliver poem comes from Dreamwork. The Journey is one of my favorite poems and Oliver is one of my favorite poets.
--Jay, Seattle, WA
May 13th, 2008 12:04 am (UTC)
Nice quote

There is hardly a thing in the world that some man can not make a little
worse and sell a little cheaper.

August 23rd, 2008 01:56 am (UTC)
I'm new here, just wanted to say hello and introduce myself.
( 13 comments — Leave comment )

Who am I?I was born on the Cancer/Leo cusp and share a birthday with Ernest Hemingway and Robin Williams. The similarities don't stop there as I can go from depressed to ecstatic without ever passing go. I feel scared most of the time though my friends call me brave and I find it easier to believe in my friends than to believe in my own abilities to make what I want out of my life.

Who am I? A wife, a mother, a daughter, and even, gulp, a grandmother.

Who am I? A writer who never gets tired of playing with words, even when the words are hard to find. A writer of books for children and articles for grown-ups and many things in-between.

Who am I? A motivational speaker, writing instructor, workshop leader and full-time follower of dreams.

Who am I? Read and find out.

Susan Taylor Brown

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