WHAT SHALL I LEARN OF BEANS OR BEANS OF ME? HENRY DAVID THOREAU ASKS, MARY OLIVER ANSWERS

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♣♣♣HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY♣♣♣

 

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Putting in the peas, it’s a St. Patrick’s Day tradition. (This year, expect a delay.)  Shamrocks, leprechaun hats, and Google remind me to make soda bread and that it’s (almost) time to work the ground.

Being in the garden reminds me of Mary Oliver’s poem, Why I Wake Early. She knows how to pay attention, be idle, wander dunes, kneel in grass. She says she doesn’t know exactly what a prayer is. I say, it’s her poetry.

Oliver writes what she likes to call ‘Praise Poetry’. Her poems comfort and amuse me. She focuses on the good and the hopeful and doesn’t mess around with what makes her unhappy in her writing.

She’s used up a lot of pencils over the years. And experienced crushing loss. But Oliver considers her life an amazing gift. Listen to her poems on The Writer’s Almanac. Garrison Keillor reads them to you while you’re otherwise engaged in buttering toast or shooing squirrels.

They (the poems, not the toast) have welcome stickiness. You hear one and a day later it’s still with you, still there in the brainpan, delivering some good thing of use. It’s what folksy-literary critics call ” a bearshit-on-the-trail” poem ~ a true and clear picture of the familiar that starts in the today and ends in the infinite.

I’m going to have a friend in this world as long as Mary Oliver keeps on living her One Wild and Precious Life.

 

Self-Portrait

by Mary Oliver

I wish I was twenty and in love with life
and still full of beans.
Onward, old legs!
There are the long, pale dunes; on the other side
the roses are blooming and finding their labor
no adversity to the spirit.
Upward, old legs! There are the roses, and there is the sea
shining like a song, like a body
I want to touch
though I’m not twenty
and won’t be again but ah! seventy. And still
in love with life. And still
full of beans.

 

Toni 3/17/15

SEARCHING FOR MARY OLIVER

In her 79th year, poet Mary Oliver is still in love with life and still full of beans. It seems she and I are walking the same shore.

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I recently discovered that Oliver left Provincetown and moved to Hobe Sound, a few miles south of me, to be near friends.

I go down to the shore in the morning

and depending on the hour the waves
are rolling in or moving out,
and I say, oh, I am miserable,
what shall—
what should I do? And the sea says
in its lovely voice:
Excuse me, I have work to do.

I look to her for a celebration of the little things in nature. And the big things.

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Ocean     (by Mary Oliver)

I am in love with the Ocean

Lifting her thousands of white hats

In the chop of the storm,

Or lying smooth and blue, the

Loveliest bed in the world.

In the personal life, there is

Always grief more than enough,

A heart-load for each one of us

On the dusty road. I suppose

There is a reason for this, so I will be

Patient, acquiescent. But I will live

Nowhere except here, by Ocean, trusting

Equally in all the blast and welcome

Of her sorrowless, salt self.

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Molly Malone Cook, Oliver’s partner for over forty years, died of cancer in 2005.  In 2012, Oliver faced her own battle.

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In Blue Horses, she writes with grace and gravity from her “platform of many years” and her recent triumph over cancer.

Oliver’s perception is acute.  She points out the wild and the quiet, what we all might see if we take the time and have the patience to truly look.

I wonder if we are both looking at the same double rainbow over our shared sea. If I meet her (some end-of-the-rainbow jackpot that would be) at the café in town or on a meander under the twisty-knotted banyan trees, I’ll say, Have you noticed this wonderful thing? 

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It seems there’s always a message in her words just for me. But mostly, there’s just beauty.

Toni 2/24/15

LINES WRITTEN IN THE DAYS OF GROWING DARKNESS

phases-of-the-moonby Mary Oliver

Every year we have been
witness to it: how the
world descends

into a rich mash, in order that
it may resume.
And therefore
who would cry out

to the petals on the ground
to stay,
knowing as we must,
how the vivacity of what was is married

to the vitality of what will be?
I don’t say
it’s easy, but
what else will do

if the love one claims to have for the world
be true?

So let us go on, cheerfully enough,
this and every crisping day,

though the sun be swinging east,
and the ponds be cold and black,
and the sweets of the year be doomed.

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NOVEMBER’S BEAVER MOON ~
COURTESY OF MOTHER NATURE.

And if Mary Oliver wrote in Italian, she’d say ~

GUARDA LA LUNA, LA BELLA LUNA ~
JUST LIKE IN MY FAVORITE MOVIE OF ALL TIME.

Thanks, Norman Jewison and MGM.

Toni 11/11/14