Mourning Mary Oliver

unnamedAs so many others have, I’ve been mourning the death of Mary Oliver this past week. I have re-read many of her poems, discovered new ones, and re-listened to her On Being interview. I have felt simultaneously comforted and bereft. Oh, what a voice we have lost.

Then, when browsing through some past posts, I rediscovered this one from the Thursday after the election. Yeah. That election. It features my then college-aged daughter seeking comfort in Mary Oliver, trying to spread love, and netting some Emily Dickinson. Re-reading it moved me once again to tears and reminded me how much our world has changed in the past few years. Sigh.

Here’s the Mary Oliver poem my daughter quoted from in the linked post:

Invitation

Oh do you have time
to linger
for just a little while
out of your busy

and very important day
for the goldfinches
that have gathered
in a field of thistles…

(click here for the rest of this poem)

While Mary Oliver’s words live on and continue to offer a path through the crazy, her death adds to my growing feeling of overwhelming loss and unease. I feel like there’s an insidious malignancy gaining ground and I’ve just lost a critical and powerful ally. So I turn again and again to poetry, to nature, and often to her words for comfort. Again and again.

Image result for it is a serious thing just to be alive

This week’s Poetry Friday Round up is hosted by Tara Smith at her blog Going to Walden. When I read the poem she shared today, a powerful and disturbing Linda Pastan poem, I was struck by how it resonated with the linked post I was sharing and with my own feelings.

28 thoughts on “Mourning Mary Oliver

  1. What a gift these words are. Thank you! xo

    Liked by 1 person

  2. margaretsmn says:

    Every day I think both thoughts: I need to hear the news and I need to turn off the news. Comfort is found here and in other PF posts. We are all in this together and we need to keep spreading hope and peace. Our collective lives depend on it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      I’m constantly torn between listening and tuning out. I retreat to preserve some calm/sanity, but then feel guilty for not listening/responding/acting. You’re right about finding comfort in the PF community.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Tabatha says:

    Your post from the Thursday after the election brought a tear to my eye. We are in uncharted waters, and it is a challenge to steady ourselves and each other. I don’t feel like we’ve really lost Mary Oliver as an ally, though. Her power is still present, isn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      I’m so glad you checked out the link, Tabatha. I also found that post so moving again when I read it. I agree that Mary Oliver’s power is still present, but while I still find comfort in her work (and so much more), it does feel like a light went out in our world.

      Like

  4. Tara Smith says:

    We are on the same page, poetically and in terms of our moods, aren’t we. Still, we are gifted with these beautiful poems and the world, somehow, feels a bit right when we can draw comfort from them.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Inspiring, thoughtful piece. I don’t know your kids, but they seem grounded and awesome! Mary Oliver lives on in all of us. What we think about, we bring about. We must remain hopeful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      I try to remember that, Dan, and to spread hope and kindness in my corner of the world. Some days that’s harder than others–at least the hope part. Speaking of hope–I hope you and Hannah are enjoying some California sun and respite from the cold.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. macrush53 says:

    Beautiful. Thank you for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I find myself “escaping” with and through Mary Oliver, too, Molly. You and I, and Mary, are kindred spirits in that we seek solace from the world, from the every day, in nature. Being in it, thinking about it, writing about it has always brought me comfort and will certainly continue to do so. Thank you for sharing your reflection.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Thank goodness for Nature! It’s been a bit tough to get out lately with the frigid temps, but even then I’m endlessly fascinated by the ice formations and the vocal ice-shifting river. Working to embrace the wonders to temper the woes!

      Like

  8. katswhiskers says:

    Taking the time to absorb and appreciate our natural world gives us breath for the crazy around us.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. haitiruth says:

    I went back and read your post from the day after the election. It was so beautiful, and took me back to that day when we were all a little stunned. (Or a lot.) Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Both your poem and the one Tara shared, though written some time ago, are so very relevant. The best poetry is timeless. It can make us think, move us, enrage us, comfort us- no matter the time. Thank you for sharing your tribute.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. maryleehahn says:

    I hear you. It feels like we’re on a slow-motion train wreck. There are times when the most important thing seems to be to bear witness to the awfulness, and then when I take solace in the small joys (the goodness of strangers, the poetry of Mary Oliver, my own little garden) it feels like I’m a traitor to reality. Well, so be it. We also need to witness every GOODness so that we can maybe maybe maybe turn the train before it’s too late.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thanks for this, Molly–it was a painful thing to go back two years, and it is indeed a serious thing to be alive. Believe us, say the birds. Makes me want to be resolutely, ridiculously, gravely alive every day, just to give ’em hell.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Kay Mcgriff says:

    There is much of these times that are troubling, but I am thankful for the words of wisdom and comfort shared by Mary Oliver and other poets and this community. We will get through it together because people are realizing that together we can make a difference. Hopefully the rest will wake up from the nightmare they are living in and sharing with us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      This community gives me hope that there are many, many good people working to make a positive difference. Mary Oliver reminds me that celebrating nature and life is always worth doing.

      Like

  14. There are mornings when I wake and think “someone, somehow must bring this madness to an end today.” And somehow, the madness just gets more unbelievable. So yes, turning to nature, making “time/to linger/for just a little while” seems like one of the only reasonable ways to stay sane. Thank you for sharing this gorgeous poem and reminding us that
    “it is a serious thing
    just to be alive
    on this fresh morning
    in the broken world.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      It’s hard to know what to do, isn’t it? Those fresh mornings keep coming though, and I suppose it’s something to recognize the beauty in life daily and to keep on holding out against the madness. At least I know I’m in good company!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Yes, “It is a serious thing just to be alive” and to notice nature and put aside the harass of each political mayhem-like day. Thanks for sharing more of Mary Oliver Molly.

    Liked by 1 person

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