Monday, November 26, 2007

Standing Still and Learning to Be Astonished

I feel like I've been moving too fast - and there are too many astonishing things that happen everyday. And as a former English teacher - and on-going poetry junkie - I found some comfort and inspiration in this poem from one of Mary Oliver's most recent collections. Mary Oliver is perhaps one of this country's greatest treasures, and while she appears to write most often about the natural world I always find fodder in her words for my more cerebral self.

by Mary Oliver

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

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