Will the hungry ox stand in the field and not eat

of the sweet grass?

Will the owl bite off its own wings?

Will the lark forget to lift its body in the air

 or forget to sing?

Will the rivers run upstream?


 Behold, I say – behold

the reliability and the finery and the teachings

of this gritty earth gift.


Eat bread and understand comfort.

 Drink water, and understand delight.

Visit the garden where the scarlet trumpets

 are opening their bodies for the hummingbirds

 who are drinking the sweetness, who

 are thrillingly gluttonous.


 For one thing leads to another.

Soon you will notice how stones shine underfoot.

Eventually tides will be the only calendar you believe in.


And someone’s face, whom you love, will be as a star

 both intimate and ultimate,

 and you will be both heart-shaken and respectful.

 And you will hear the air itself, like a beloved, whisper:

 oh, let me, for a while longer, enter the two

beautiful bodies of your lungs.




What I loved in the beginning, I think, was mostly myself.

 Never mind that I had to, since somebody had to.

That was many years ago.

 Since then I have gone out from my confinements,

through with difficulty.

I mean the ones that thought to rule my heart.

 I cast them out, I put them on the mush pile.

 They will be nourishment somehow (everything is nourishment

somehow or another).

And I have become the child of the clouds, and of hope.

 I have become the friend of the enemy, whoever that is.

 I have become older and, cherishing what I have learned,

I have become younger.


And what do I risk to tell you this, which is all I know?

Love yourself. Then forget it. Then, love the world.


 ~ Mary Oliver ~

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