Fresh Quotes: Mary Oliver

I’ve always wanted to write poems and nothing else.

~Mary Oliver

Coming in whispers that speak to that child that lurks within

the one that plays in grassy fields and kisses the sweet spring wind

she who laughs at chickadees and muses with birds

Quietly knocking one over the head with her simple earthy words.

I have been literally brought to tears on more than one occasion by this immensely talented writer and poet.

Mary Oliver is an artist who more than paints pictures with words. She illustrates profound feeling in vivid and not so vivid colors and hues. They hit me deep down in my soul.

Never before have I so connected with another’s words. It reinforces to me the greater connection we all have with each other and our beautiful planet.

What follows are some of my favorite quotes by this Pulitzer Prize winner.

MARY OLIVER

 

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”

“Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.”

There is nothing better than work. Work is also play; children know that. Children play earnestly as if it were work. But people grow up, and they work with a sorrow upon them. It’s duty. 

“I believe in kindness. Also in mischief. Also in singing, especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed.”

 

 

“Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed.”

 

Ordinarily, I go to the woods alone, with not a single friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore unsuitable. I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way of praying, as you no doubt have yours. Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit on the top of a dune as motionless as an uprise of weeds, until the foxes run by unconcerned. I can hear the almost unhearable sound of the roses singing. If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love you very much.”

“Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.”

 

I want to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.”

 

 

Do you love this world? Do you cherish your humble and silky life? Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath? Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden, and softly, and exclaiming of their dearness, fill your arms with the white and pink flowers, with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling, their eagerness to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are nothing, forever?

 Yes…yes I do Mary Oliver… thank you for your inspiration. 

~nlm

MARY OLIVER
Mary Oliver was born in 1935 in Maple Heights, Ohio.  She attended both Ohio State University and Vassar College.  As a young poet, Oliver was deeply influenced by Edna St. Vincent Millay and briefly lived in Millay’s home, helping Norma Millay organize her sister’s papers.
  Oliver is notoriously reticent about her private life, but it was during this period that she met her long-time partner, Molly Malone Cook. The couple moved to Provincetown, Massachusetts, and the surrounding Cape Cod landscape has had a marked influence on Oliver’s work.  Mary Oliver held the Catharine Osgood Foster Chair for Distinguished Teaching at Bennington College until 2001. In addition to such major awards as the Pulitzer and National Book Award, Oliver has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. She has also won the American Academy of Arts & Letters Award, the Poetry Society of America’s Shelley Memorial Prize and Alice Fay di Castagnola Award. She lives in Provincetown, Massachusetts. 
(Excerpt from the Poetry Foundation Bio)

Mary Oliver (Poetryfoundation.org)

(Great site chocked full of resources including full-length poems)

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Wander

 

 

“Not all those who wander are lost.”

J. R. R. Tolkien

I sit and stare at the blank page waiting to be filled with splashes and sploshes of delightful and colorful words. Words that convey a profound wisdom and grace. Words that draws one in. Words that come alive. Words that tease the imagination and beckons you to play. You have fun all day in the sun and before you realize it, you’ve learned something. At least I want my writing to be like that but lately….not so much…

 

I remember when I started blogging. I would read many a post from a fellow blogger who would begin the post with a “Sorry I’ve been gone so long but...”  I swore I would never do that but it seems like I’m doing that now.

I could say that I’ve haven’t had much time to write but who does really? I know one must make time to write and I haven’t done that.  I suppose I haven’t wanted to or I haven’t had anything to say. I seem to be running away from something. My thoughts perhaps?  There is a running dialogue that presents itself to me.  It fills my mind and it races almost too fast for me to keep up.  I will read things I have written previously and be awestruck at the strangeness of it. I recognize bits of myself but other bits I don’t recognize quite as well.

I have been using my travel time to work to just sit. I zone out and allow my mind to be still which usually leads to some interesting meandering.  I’m taking it all in; whatever crosses my path on my journey literally and figuratively.  I just allow myself to just be.

 

art girl blowing bubbles planets

Writing has always been therapeutic. I’ve put my feelings down in words ever since I could hold a pencil. It’s been my outlet to the outside world. Starting this blog and writing over 200 posts has profoundly changed me.  I’ve grown in leaps and bounds over the last four years. Never can I go back to what I once was. I must forge ahead. Part of that forging is taking my writing to the next level. I haven’t submitted much as I find I have nothing I deem worthy.

Putting heart and soul out there in words is what I do best, but there are a million others who can say the same thing. Who am I to presume that I have anything to say that anyone would want to hear, must less pay for?  I realize now that I should abandon my hope of being a paid writer as money cannot be my focus. I have to go where my heart lies and seldom in this life do the two go hand and hand.

I have been distracted by life and rightly so.  Whatever I write is not only deeply effected by my current experiences, it is built on them. I put myself into it. I don’t know of any other way.

I have been conflicted as of late on what to write at all really.  I have some bits and pieces that I have written lately, many are tinged with an anger at the state of the world.  I am a crazy idealistic dreamer who goes on pessimistic forays now and then but I always return with a  renewed sense of vigor. This is vigor has been rising up but is confused as to which way to go.  I always have to have a answer. I cannot seem to finish a writing piece without having the issue settled in my mind and it seems everything is up in the air and I don’t have all the answers. I’m learning that is okay too.

 

vintage girl and elephant friend

 

I’m trying to live in the moment and just take life in. I am grateful for what I have and I am enjoying whatever comes. I am content but restless. I feel like something is left undone and I have a strange feeling of deja vu right now. It’s like my future self is rooting for me to do the right thing —whatever that is. Honestly I don’t know sometimes…

I also have been finding myself getting lost the beauty of the words of others such as  those of Mary Oliver who has in the short span of a year has become one of my favorite writers.  I feel a kinship with her writing. I love the whimsy and the focus on the small and quiet things of nature, on that which is difficult to hear but essential to the ear.   I’ve been ordering them one by one from the library. I look forward to cracking open a new book . Her words have made me laugh and cry, they have delighted and amused me, they have made me think.  Never before have I been so emotionally affected by writing. Her words are so real, so poignant and oh so lovely. They are a beautiful escape to me. I see myself there, I identify and find kinship there. And then it dawns on me; that maybe I can do some of that too, in my own way.  Provide an escape. A refuge in words and imagery for others to retreat to too.  Writing doesn’t have to be “important” all the time, or wise or impressive to mean something to someone. To touch another person with words is amazing and I would love someday to be able to touch people like Mary Oliver has touched me.

 

 

zoo girl and duck

Something to ponder on a cold and windy day in November….

Seems like I’m back for a spell.

~NLM

 

animal-children-photography-elena-shumilova-13 cat shadow girl

 

“Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.”
Mary Oliver

 

 

*

Cavorting with Nature

 

 

 

It happened so quickly: a flutter of wings, a white flash..and then I saw them…two cavorting butterflies, cabbage whites, I think.  Fluttering all around me; my head and legs, coming so close I can feel the gentle breeze on my face created by the fritterings of their little wings.  I sit as still as I can and take in this surreal and glorious moment. Then just as abruptly as they appear they flutter off together into the blue October sky.  It was quite a moment and strange as it sounds I got the idea they were thanking me for something. A place to cavort perhaps. A resting place amid the growing greenness in this nondescript urban oasis that is my backyard. A wildish place of ordered chaos. A pesticide-free zone with a little bit for everyone. Native plants and more. Providing nectar and seeds and shelter and safe spots to forage with berries and tomatoes and lots of tasty bugs and worms.

A respite from the lifeless urban jungle of hard concrete and indifference.

 

 

Hummingbird and Pineapple Sage
Hummingbird and Pineapple Sage

 

These moments bring me such joy; my encounters with the urban wildlife that visit my garden.   There are  the squirrels who compete for nuts with the squawky jays. They are beautifully blue and like to fly from rooftop to rooftop swooping down in the yard hunting and catching insects.

Along with the white butterflies, there are bees galore, buzzing from here to there, intermixed with hover-flies which seem to defy gravity. These beneficial insects love the sweet asylum that seeds itself freely and grows every summer against the southern wall that borders the driveway. This once barren slab of cement now teems with exuberant life. The other side is filled with a hodgepodge of annuals and perennials.

It resembles more of a science experiment than a tidy yard. I’ve never been a very tidy person but the urban fauna doesn’t seem to mind.

And as the season progresses and as October turns to November my time in the garden has decreased in fact admittedly, it has been nearly a week since I have been back here.   I take advantage of a much needed sunny day and plan to spend some time working and appreciating. All the work I do know will pay off next Spring.

Of course I leave much of the wildness for the urban wildlife who will winter here.

 

All the remain of the once vibrant yellow Susans are the jet black seed pods which the chickadees and finches have been devouring with a flourish. 

 

goldfinch-eating-black-eyed-susan bird
Goldfinch on Black-eyed Susan

I am always reflective this time of year and I do much of my reflecting back here. The fuchsia is still blooming and the Pineapple Sage is in it’s full glory. It’s scarlet spires provide nectar to the hummingbirds which still visit as the season progresses and progresses it does. The leaves have changed and many have fallen to the ground. I can hear them crunch under my feet. My mind goes back to the white butterflies and my brief encounter with them just a couple weeks ago. I haven’t seen any since.  Our next meeting will have to wait for Spring when they return. And so will the Canada Geese that I hear flying overhead, their distinct honking flooding the sky with such riotous sound. This brings me back to Autumn’s past. It is these living harbingers of winter who make me sit and pause and reflect upon life and time.   It will be the Geese again who will prompt the same reflection upon their return.

 

Canada Geese flying in V formation
Canada Geese flying in V formation

 

And now it is my turn to say thank you to the fantastic world around us. From the smallest proton to the largest supernova…from the tiny microbe in the soil to the hummingbird to the black and white house cat to the awestruck and humbled human. We are all connected and what a beautiful thing is that.

 

Have a fantastic day!

Nancy

.

 

“…Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”

Mary Oliver

goose-picture-3

Frank Sinatra – Come Fly With Me