Another Mary Oliver

Another Mary Oliver poem to share today. Last night, I was reading my new book of her poems again, and I realized what it is about her writing that is pulling me in these days—she reminds me of why I love reading and writing—I love those moments when you discover something so true or honest or mind-bending that it changes how you are in the world. Many of her poems do that so simply. They make you think of something in such a new way, changing how you see it forever. Thank you Mary Oliver.

White Owl Flies Into and Out of the Field
by Mary Oliver

Coming down
out of the freezing sky
with its depths of light,
like an angel,
or a buddha with wings,
it was beautiful
and accurate,
striking the snow and whatever was there
with a force that left the imprint
of the tips of its wings—
five feet apart—and the grabbing
thrust of its feet,
and the indentation of what had been running
through the white valleys
of the snow—

and then it rose, gracefully,
and flew back to the frozen marshes,
to lurk there,
like a little lighthouse,
in the blue shadows—
so I thought:
maybe death
isn’t darkness, after all,
but so much light
wrapping itself around us—

as soft as feathers—
that we are instantly weary
of looking, and looking, and shut our eyes,
not without amazement,
and let ourselves be carried,
as through the translucence of mica,
to the river
that is without the least dapple or shadow—
that is nothing but light—scalding, aortal light—
in which we are washed and washed
out of our bones.

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4 Responses to “Another Mary Oliver”


  1. 1 Kerri September 7, 2009 at 12:22 am

    Oh that is such a great way to think about death, I love it! I think the way she writes is somehow similar to music. The way the words are arranged, not unlike notes of music, seems to give them a mystery and power they would never reach without her.

  2. 2 Era September 10, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    Woah. I see what you mean. That was kind of unexpected too, because she lured me into thinking it would be a simple descriptive nature poem at the beginning. It makes it all the more effective.

  3. 3 Nadia October 23, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    Just thank you. It’s a poem from my very yong days. I love it. I was twenty when I saw it first time (bilingual) in the “America” journal for the Soviet Union. Since it’s one of my favorit. Today I had a move to remember it, and your blog was one I’ve open first of all.
    I wish you luck and happiness. Nadia (Russia)


  1. 1 Free at Last, and the Public Library « blue bicicletta Trackback on September 15, 2009 at 4:22 pm

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Hello there! My name is Nicole K. Docimo, and I am an artist and writer from the U.S.A. but currently residing in Zurich, Switzerand. Thank you for visiting my blog!

Some Thoughts

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~Rumi

{from "Joy at Sudden Disappointment"
translated by C. Barks.}

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