Poetry Friday – Mary Oliver

Today is Poetry Friday. Thank you to Christie Wyman for hosting us today at her Wondering and Wandering blog. Be sure to read the community poem she compiled called “Poetry Is…”

This week I’ve been reading Mary Oliver.

I’m finding that poets are among those I want to keep company with. You, Poetry Friday friends, “who say, ‘Look!’ and laugh in astonishment and bow your heads.” Thank you for helping me see the wonder.

I love that poem, “Mysteries, Yes” by Mary Oliver in her book Evidence (2009). This week, I read her collection, Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver.

I’m not two weeks late for the #theSealyChallenge to read a poetry book a day in August. I didn’t even try to do the challenge. However, Margaret Simon has been inspiring me this month, so I thought I would read at least a couple of poetry books in August. I have 3-4 that idly and open-heartedly wait for me on my Kindle. This week it was Mary Oliver. Her collection is filled with beautiful hope, faith, love and nature. What could be better?

I went through my notes and wrote out some of the highlighted lines in my favorite poems. (I didn’t get very far into my favorite lines because of the sheer volume of them). I chose about twenty, cut them apart, and then arranged them in order until I was pleased. The results are a cento poem exclusively made with Mary Oliver’s words.

A Cento of Gratitude for Mary Oliver

Joy is not made to be a crumb.
Love yourself. Then forget it. Then love the world.
It’s giving until the giving feels like receiving

Is this the place?
What would do for you?
And have you changed your life?

You have a life–just imagine that.
That the gift has been given–
Yes, yes, we are the lucky ones

to dance for the world,
all that glorious, temporary stuff
of this gritty earth gift.

You don’t hear such voices in an hour a day
Sometimes I want to sum up and give thanks,
and so, no doubt, can you, and you.

Sources for each line (in order)

      1. Don’t Hesitate
      2. To Begin With, the Sweet Grass
      3. To Begin With, the Sweet Grass
      4. I Wake Close to Morning
      5. Evidence
      6. Swan
      7. To Begin With, the Sweet Grass
      8. The Gift (from Felicity, 2014)
      9. I Know Someone
      10. Prayer
      11. On Meditating, Sort Of
      12. To Begin With, the Sweet Grass
      13. At the River Clarion
      14. That Little Beast
      15. The Poet Compares Human Nature to the Ocean From Which We Came

Oliver, Mary. Devotions. Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

20 thoughts on “Poetry Friday – Mary Oliver

  1. Thank you for the Mary Oliver this morning! I love the line about staying away from those who claim to have the answers. May we all dwell in mystery today… xo

  2. Ah, Mary Oliver does not fail us. What a wonderful way to offer the joy of her words than to collect your favorites & knit them into a poem. That is special, as is “Joy is not made to be a crumb.” Thanks, Denise! FYI – I found you anyway, but your link is not working on Christie’s link-ups!

    1. Linda, thank you so much for making the effort to come, read, and leave a comment. I too thought it was a nice way to keep some favorites close at hand. InLinkz doesn’t work for me every time. I’m not sure why! Again, thanks for taking the extra step to stop by!

  3. Oh, what a cool idea! I will try that with a poet whose work I love. Isn’t working with your hands so satisfying? Cutting the lines, rearranging them, and so on. I was doing that this week with a different kind of poem I’m working on, and enjoyed the process thoroughly.

    (One could even make a poem using the phrases of the anti-spam device, below!)

    Your post is a good reminder to read some of Mary Oliver’s work, too.

    1. Susan, yes, I too love working with my hands. It is satisfying to know that we will never be a fully digital world, as the physical world is so pleasurable. Enjoy Mary’s work!

  4. What a fabulous way to process your favorite lines from Mary Oliver and amplify her messages! What a blessing you’ve given us!

  5. What a lovely poem you knit from collected lines! Thanks for the shout out. Since school started, my poetry book reading has fallen behind. I knew this would happen. I think this idea would work well with students after they’ve read a poetry book or verse novel. It’s an exercise in synthesis and creativity.

  6. This community is the best. I am late to the #theSealyChallenge. I just heard about it yesterday. I loved each of your lines.

    1. Thank you, Jone. I could have put together six or eight poems like this with all my favorites highlighted over this long collection. It is fun!

  7. Denise, thank you for the gift of both Mary Oliver’s poem (I love her) and your own cento–they are both full of comfort and beauty!

  8. Thank you, Denise, for this thoughtful post and these always-on-point, always inspiring lines, in two forms here, from Mary Oliver. Yes to the mysteries. And, I have the Devotions collection on my nightstand – need to dive in! Have a great week. :0)

    1. Yes, enjoy the deep dive into her beautiful worlds of words. I keep it handy by my bed too in case I wake up at night and can’t sleep.

  9. I share your feelings about the Poetry Friday community – well said :-).

    I love this line from the Mary Oliver poem you shared: “How people come, from delight or the scars of damage, to the comfort of a poem.”

    Your cento is beautiful! I’m always discovering new poetic forms through your posts. This is another one I want to have a go at.

    1. Thank you, Elisabeth. That is a wonder how something we read can speak to us in different ways, for different needs. I’m glad you learned a new poetry form. I usually learn at least one new one every Friday!

  10. I love this idea! And your poem of Mary Oliver’s words turned out great! I will have to try this soon. Thanks for sharing.

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