American Poetry, Poetry

Mary Oliver’s Morning Poem

Like the Zen poets of China and Japan, American poet Mary Oliver’s work is deeply rooted in nature and her physical and ephemeral experience of the wilds that surround her. In Morning Poem, she communicates a deep optimism about the human condition; that even in the midst of heavy suffering, we can recognize a rightness about our lives, a necessity for the conditions we meet; that ‘each pond with its blazing lilies is a prayer heard and answered’.

 

Morning Poem

Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange

sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches —
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it

the thorn
that is heavier than lead —
if it’s all you can do
to keep on trudging —

there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted —

each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
lavishly,
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.

 

Mary Oliver
From: Dream Work

 

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