Sometimes I think I should just give UP writing about nature and turn this entire world, not just NJWILDBEAUTY, over to my Ur-Poet — Mary Oliver, formerly of Provincetown, Mass, bard of the sea and the dunes and the wild creatures. She describes her life purpose as “trying to write about nature so that anyone can understand it.” Needless to say, she has been my mentor for decades.
My computer didn’t compute all weekend, so I luxuriated in every Mary Oliver book, –prose and poetry–, that I own.
The greatest tribute I can give to this Pulitzer-prize-winning poet is that hers were the only books I took to the hospital and rehab when my failed hip was replaced with a kayaker’s hip, on 11/11/11. As Dr. Thomas Gutowski teased me, “You may like it better than the original.”
NJWILDBEAUTY readers know that I make the most of this new hip, on trails and in the kayak. I moved everything aside to kayak twice in two days a weekend ago, out on the canal, and writing of it for Rich Rein and his array of lively local papers. My ideal, of course, will be a ‘trifecta’ – Friday, Saturday and Sunday on the water — but the weather gods will have to cooperate.
When Jeanette Hooban and Carolyn Yoder and I were in Provincetown last Hallowe’en, my favorite part (beyond the food! o yes, and the whale and seals) was the library, where everyone knew Mary, where her garden had been, how marvelous she was at readings and what a quiet force she was in that unique town..
Here is my all-time favorite Mary Oliver masterpiece — make of it what you will! What does it stir in YOU? Tell me in comments!
This came from a blog called Home Thoughts Worth Thinking, when I Googled, “soft animal of your body.”
They do not attribute the painting — my guess is one of my all-time American favorites, Winslow Homer. What do you think?
“I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the Heart’s affections and the truth of the Imagination.” — John Keats
by Mary Oliver
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
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