The poet Mary Oliver died today. My favorite poem of hers is The Summer Day, so I copied it here. I especially love the last three lines. It’s a great reminder to pay attention to the details, to find pleasure in the little things, and to remember that we get just one precious life. It is uniquely ours. And we are each unique. So, as Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.” Live authentically, with passion, and with love.
The Summer Day
Who made the world? Who made the swan, and the black bear? Who made the grasshopper? This grasshopper, I mean- the one who has flung herself out of the grass, the one who is eating sugar out of my hand, who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down- who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes. Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face. Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away. I don't know exactly what a prayer is. I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass, how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields, which is what I have been doing all day. Tell me, what else should I have done? Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
from New and Selected Poems, 1992
Beacon Press, Boston, MA
Copyright 1992 by Mary Oliver.
All rights reserved.