Monday, May 19, 2008

From Six Recognitions Of The Lord By Mary Oliver


I lounge on the grass, that's all. So
simple. Then I lie back until I am
inside the cloud that is just above me
but very high, and shaped like a fish.
Or, perhaps not. Then I enter the place
of not-thinking, not-remembering, not-
wanting. When the blue jay cries out his
riddle, in his carping voice, I return.
But I go back, the threshold is always
near. Over and back, over and back. Then
I rise. Maybe I rub my face as though I
have been asleep. But I have not been
asleep. I have been, as I say, inside
the cloud, or, perhaps, the lily floating
on the water. Then I go back to town
to my own house, my own life, which has
now become brighter and simpler, some-where I have never been before


Every summer the lilies rise
and open their white hands until they almost
cover the black waters of the pond. And I give
thanks but it does not seem like adequate thanks,
it doesn't seem
festive enough or constant enough, nor does the
name of the Lord or the words of thanksgiving come
into it often enough Everywhere I go I am
treated like royalty, which I am not. I thirst and
am given water. My eyes thirst and I am given
the white lilies on the black water. My heart
sings but the apparatus of singing doesn't convey
half what it feels and means. In spring there's hope,
in fall the exquisite, necessary diminishing, in
winter I am as sleepy as any beast in its
leafy cave, but in summer there is
everywhere the luminous sprawl of gifts,
the hospitality of the Lord and my
inadequate answers as I row my beautiful, temporary body
through this water-lily world.


Substitute "Goddess" or "the Lord and the Lady" for Oliver's "Lords" and this is a v Pagan poem, I think. It confirms for me that mystics do what mystics do and then they seek for some kind of language to translate the cannot-be-translated into words. The words can be xian, Hindu, Buddhist, Kabbalah, Wiccan. It doesn't matter. In the end, it's all just god pouring god into god, as someone once said.

1 comment:

Chas S. Clifton said...

I have been a Mary Oliver fan for years, but when I read some of the new poems last year, all the "Lord" stuff seemed jammed in. Sort of like, "I must be religious now."

But I know she has suffered some deep personal losses, and if this how those losses show up in her writing, she's the poet.