Tag Archives: Happiness

“Felicity” by Mary Oliver

Is there a book that you like to give away over and over? Is there a book that you turn to at regular intervals in your life? Is there a book that acts as a counsellor, a friend, a comfort, a consoler, a realist, an idealist, a bridge to empathy, a window of light? if there is, then this why books possess an indefinable magic and why, like all great loves, their spirit never truly dies.

“Felicity” by the American poet Mary Oliver is one such book for me. Mary Oliver, who died early 2019, was one of the great American poets of the latter part of the 20th Century and early 21st. Steeped in the transcendentalist vision of Emerson and Thoreau, the exuberance of Whitman, and the eager eye of Emily Dickinson, Mary Oliver wrote with brilliant perception about the physical world she immersed herself in, letting the natural world take centre stage and reminding her audience that there are other worlds and other dimensions to taste and relish besides the human one. Her philosophy is one of deep sensitivity, lucid empathy, and a life-affirming sense of expansion, that nothing is too small to be wondered about.

These qualities shine forth in “Felicity”, which examines that most fascinating of topics that interests us all: love. Some of the poems are only a few lines long, yet this is to suggest a disservice as to their merit. Within these parameters, Oliver conveys more sense and beauty that many lesser poets would strive to achieve in poems of greater length and opaqueness. “Felicity” can be read in a quick thirty minute burst from cover to cover but in order to savour the full magic of the writing, it is best to read slowly and fully appreciate each poem for the enriching morsels they are.

Oliver invites us along the journey with the great Persian poet, Rumi, acting as a guiding spirit, injecting the poems with pearls of wisdom, a credo for living and loving, threaded with compassionate humour. There are poems that you will want to declaim in recognition and commit to memory, for the sheer sense of exuberance and aliveness they contain. For example, in “Moments”, the central lines underscores one of the main themes of the collection:

Your heart is beating, isn’t it?
You’re not in chains, are you?

These nuggets of learning sit cheek by jowl with poems that more obviously speak of love. In “I Know Someone” , the poet compares kissing with a flower opening and, despite acknowledging a flower’s potent charm to captivate, concludes that ultimately it is humans who are the fortunate ones as we can kiss other humans and realise the supreme and tangible delight of connection.

There is a recurring sense in this collection of 38 poems, that love is the highest ideal that we can aspire to, “love is the one thing the heart craves”. Notwithstanding the pain and affliction that life will throw at us, from time to time, it is a force worth seeking out, worth embracing, and worth singing about. Mary Oliver may have departed from earth, but her poems transcend the mundane and will continue to blaze bright, long into the future. Seize the rich lens of attention, she advocates, and never lose your childlike sense of awe, your acceptance of mortality and, above all, your desire to love. Live while you can, have fun along the way, and wear the cloak of gratitude with unbounded joy.
To put it blithely, these poems capture perfectly why harbouring an open heart and an alert mind are fundamental qualities in a poet, besides a keen sense of the precision of language and an eye for the fitting image, “I don’t want to lose a single thread/ from the intricate brocade of this happiness”. Dive in, at any point, into this book and you will come swimming to the surface in a state of buoyancy – revitalised, refreshed, and reborn.

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I Woke Up

I woke up with an urge this morning
to tell you what you already know –
while madness may afflict the planet
and troubles afflict the weary soul
my love for you never dissipates,
every day it is born awake.
Like a bird in flight, soaring free,
your scented light surges through me.

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Walk With Me #2

Walk with me
In sunshine and in rain
Walk with me
Through the pain.

Walk with me
Across the fields
Walk with me
Where darkness yields.

Walk with me
Over the hills
Walk with me
To the silent thrills.

Walk with me
To the sultry sea
Walk with me
Naked and carefree.

Walk with me
Avenues unwind
Walk with me
Unclothe your mind.

Walk with me
Beyond the page
Walk with me
Love and engage.

Walk with me
Peel your eyes
Walk with me
Catch a surprise.

Walk with me
On this earth
Walk with me
Give birth to mirth.

Walk with me
From beach to beach
Walk with me
The stars we’ll reach.

Walk with me
Where passion calls
Walk with me
To the roaring falls.

Walk with me
Let wounds repair
Walk with me
Pleasures share.

Walk with me
Immersed in this
Walk with me
Touch and kiss

Walk with me
Lighten your load

Walk with me
On the open road

Walk with me
Caress the flow
Walk with me
Memories glow.

Walk with me
Feed the fire
Walk with me
Unbind desire.

Walk with me
Day and night
Walk with me
Unveil your light

Walk with me
Into the dawn
Walk with me
Hope is reborn.

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Give and Take

Let’s dance

and not leave

anything

to chance.

Let’s partake

and savour

the beauty

we create.

Let’s praise

the sacred

and the secular

gaze.

Let’s eye

one another

and never say

goodbye.

Let’s spread

a kind of magic

when we lay

our weary heads.

Let’s write

with our tongues

and welcome

lovers’ light.

Let’s feel

as we blend

on the path

that stars reveal.

Let’s vow

to wonder

by living

in the now.

Let’s give

and take,

the chord proclaims:

LIVE.

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You Fall On Me

You fall on me with great tenderness,
bending in light, a willowy presence.

You fall on me with natural intent,
a gift of love that signals content.

You fall on me, in rapture and thought,
a river of joy, liberty sought.

You fall on me day and night,
soft as mist, heavenly sight.

You fall on me when silence arrives,
this oasis in which we thrive.

You fall on me in a rising tide,
spelling a chant leavened with sighs.

You fall on me like a dream –
generous as the sun,
radiance your theme.

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Shall We?

Shall we love each other as long as we live?
Shall we repent and always forgive?
Shall we laugh and cry as minutes fly?
Shall we never say goodbye?
Shall we look into one another’s eyes?
Shall we hug the daily surprise?
Shall we speak words soft and sweet?
Shall we welcome the sacred treat?
Shall we meditate upon all the beauty?
Shall we hold the flame with duty?
Shall we kiss away the sorrows?
Shall we travel all the morrows?
Shall we sit in the morning sun?
Shall we seize and keep it fun?
Shall we praise what’s to come?
Shall we listen to the calming hum?
Shall we chime in the rhyming hours?
Shall we sing as fondness flowers?
Shall we drink from the cup of mirth?
Shall we give joy on this earth?
Shall we reside in desire?
Shall we build a lasting fire?

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Living

Desire for life
Is a wave
That ebbs and flows
On the shoreline
Of our searching minds.

Desire for sex
Is the rain
That floods and runs
On the map
Of our pulsing days.

Desire for peace
Is a wind
That gleams and streams
On the hills
Of our risen needs.

Desire for love
Is a sun
That flares and bursts
On the banks
Of our fragile hearts.

Desire for life
Desire for sex
Desire for peace
Desire for love

Reside in desire.

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