Why I Wake Early – Mary Oliver – A tribute

Why I Wake Early

Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who make the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and crotchety–

best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light–
good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.

Mary Oliver (1935 – 2019)

Mary Oliver died on 17 January. She was an American poet who won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in 2007. The New York Times described her as ‘far and away, America’s best-selling poet’.

This short poem is a tribute to her wonderful sun-life philosophy. She was, like Emily Dickenson, not one for the limelight. It is not easy to start each day with the sun in your eyes and to say thank you, thank and treat each day anew in such a disciplined positive way. But the dear star defines life and recognition is quite appropriate even if there is a cloud in the sky.

Here is a fitting link to a tribute from Alan Storey (Methodist Minister of Cape Town, South Africa) …

Mary Oliver on Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Oliver

The Summer Day – Mary Oliver – Comments

Mary Oliver is re-known for aligning the natural word with femininity. Here is one of her well known poems. I have broken the poem into a number of components with my commentary following in italics.

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?

… from the general nebulous consideration to that of the very specific – the grasshopper … let us consider creation at this level where we can get our hands and eyes easily engaged

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.

… so looking at the grasshopper and with personal observation … the jaws and eyes are stand out features

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

… you can imagine interest kept until the grasshopper floats away … implying a sustained focus … and admiration in the movement of the insect

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.

… an introduction to what is prayer for MO

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.

… prayer can involve kneeling which is very apt … prayer can involve focus and awareness … so too appreciation … in this case an appreciation of nature for MO has spent the summer day in idle blessing of the wonder of nature … a way of saying thank you in the form of a living prayer of just being … exudes a certain contentment

Tell me, what else should I have done?

… very apt to be appreciative of nature on a summer day … we should all do this too … say thank you for the blessing of the natural world … defined specifically by our own place and time … whether or not we have fields at hand to wander in wonderment

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

… make the most of every moment – appreciate what we have … now and to the full

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your wild and precious life?

… a question that only the reader can answer … you are wild – part of the natural world … and of course you are precious … like all life

Mary Oliver (1935 – ) from House of Light

Perhaps this poem highlights the need for us to stop for a moment and say thank you … and interesting to look closely around us too … to see our blessings which we quite often take for granted … and be content on where we are … I guess we all need to do this at times.

A link to Mary Oliver reading this poem .

Mary Oliver on Wilipedia.