Wednesday, April 6, 2022

The Poet: Mary Oliver, “Evidence”


“Where do I live?
If I had no address, as many people do not,
I could nevertheless say that I lived in the 
same town as the lilies of the field,
and the still waters.

Spring, and all through the neighborhood 
now there are
 strong men tending flowers.
Beauty without purpose is beauty without virtue.

But all beautiful things, inherently, have this function -

to excite the viewers toward sublime thought.

Glory to the world, that good teacher.

Among the swans there is none 
called the least,
 or the greatest.
I believe in kindness. Also in mischief.
Also in singing, 
especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed.

As for the body, 
it is solid and strong and curious and full of detail;
it wants to polish itself; it wants to love another body;

it is the only vessel in the world that can hold,
in a mix of power and sweetness:

words, song, gesture, passion, ideas,
devotion, merriment, vanity, and virtue.
Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.”

- Mary Oliver
“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for! To quote from Whitman, ‘O me! O life! of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless - of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?’ Answer: That you are here - that life exists, and that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”
- “Dead Poets Society”

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