Thursday, April 3, 2008

In Blackwater Woods--Mary Oliver

In Blackwater Woods

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.


Anonymous said...

Lovely, Benjamin! For some reason, it brought to mind this poem by Gunnar Ekelof (Robert Bly translation, quotes in title Ekelof's). Sorry about the unfortunate line breaks!

"So Strange to Me"

So strange to me
this rose, this thing delicately
bursting out
this absent thoughtfulness
or light over a turned-away
As on a spring day
when you sense something and hold
it firmly
an instant, a second
something that shall never turn
to summer

Anonymous said...

Love Mary Oliver. Thanks.

Benjamin Vogt said...

OFB--Yes, that's a good poem! Bly is a pretty good translator overall, too, in lots og things I've read by him. Thanks!
Kathryn--Thanks for stopping by. I'm just getting in to Oliver when I should've years ago (I've taught her poetry handbook though!).