As many of you perhaps already know, Mary Oliver, the poet and a beloved spirt to me and to Maria, died today She often described her work as the observation of life, and she considered the love of nature and the love of life to be her faith.
Critics compared her to Walt Whitman, Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson, and she was the most successful and loved poet in America. I doubt you will see much about her on the news today or tomorrow she was the antithesis of the news, gentle, kind empathic and deeply spiritual, loving the small things in nature, loving animals.
Tonight, Maria and I will dedicate an hour or so to her. We will sit in the dark, light a candle, perhaps listen to videos of some of readings. And we’ll honor her beautiful poem “Mornings At Blackwater,” which we had a friend read at our wedding.
I want to share the last three verses of the beautiful poem. Soon after we married, we drove to Provincetown, Mass, to walk around Blackwater Pond, which Oliver did every morning of the 40 years that she lived in Provincetown before moving to Florida a few years ago.
“What I want to say is
that the past is the past
and the present is what your life is,
and you are capable
of what choosing what will be,
So come to the pond,
or the river of your imagination,
or the harbor of your longing,
and put your lips to the world,
and live your life.”
And that is what we did, and do,
every day of our lives. She was our poet,
our anthem, our spirit.
She helped us learn to love nature
and observe it closely,
and to love our loves,
and put our lips to the world,
Which is what we have done,
or tried to do. Every day.
Thanks Mary, and godspeed to you.
In the “Spring,” here in its entirety, she wrote:
“I live my face to the pale flowers of the rain. They’re soft as linen,
clean as holy water. Meanwhile my dog runs off,
noses down packed leaves
into damp, mysterious tunnels.
He says the smells are rising now
stiff and lively; he says the beasts
are waking up now full of oil,
sleep sweat, tag-ends of dreams.
The rain rubs is shining hands all over me.
My dog returns and barks fiercely,
each secret body is the richest advisor,
deep in the black earth such fuming
nuggets of joy!”
I can’t mourn Mary Oliver too deeply,
after all, she lives on in so many ways,
we will never forget her, she is
in our hearts and souls and love,
in the nature of the world,
in our coming to the pond
or the river of our imagination,
and our putting our lips to the world
and living our lives.