Tag Archives: Nature

“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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Arrival #2

You come to me in dreams,
holding a blade of light;
You come to me in life,
casting out the fright.

You come to me in style,
a smile that sweetly greets;
You come to me in hope,
gilding the fleeting beats.

You come to me in peace,
a sea of watchful grace;
You come to me in joy,
this heart an open space.

You come to me in thought,
slipping the weight of time;
You come to me in flesh,
one word will do – sublime.

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There Is Nowhere

There is nowhere I’d rather be
than here, drinking in the view,
meditating on what’s new.

Well actually that is a lie –
I’d rather be somewhere else,
relishing the youness of you.

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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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Spring Cycle

Curtain of water
Nourisher of verdant lands
Across centuries

Across centuries
Every stone telling a tale
Hardened endurance

Hardened endurance
Spelling shoots of renewal
Unceasing release.

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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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Early Morning

Early morning.
The sun not yet risen,
schemes itching to wink
on the cusp of expectation.
A dog barks with happy swagger,
windows catch the scented dawn
and you swim into my life –
like a mermaid from the depths,
salted, exalted, reborn.

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