If you don’t already know the poetry of Mary Oliver, I have a treat in store for you. Oliver is one of my favorite poets and, while [unsucessfully] looking for a royalty-free photograph of her to use with this post, I came upon this description in Wikipedia: “Her poetry combines dark introspection with joyous release.” Aha! So that is why this Irishman enjoys her so much.
Oliver writes mostly nature poetry and occasionally she exhibits breath-taking insight. Take, for instance, these few lines from The Summer Day:
I don’t exactly know 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.
Another of her poems, Singapore, begins with a sentence that has haunted me since first I read it:
In Singapore, in the airport,
A darkness was ripped from my eyes.