Self-Portrait

Among the pleasures I’ve celebrated today – 2-2-22 – has been news from a new friend who wrote of hers in taking delivery of a copy of Devotions, and that … ‘yes, Mary Oliver definitely nailed the important things in Wild Geese.’

Mary Oliver will have known, in her time on earth, of just how widely her body of work was received and welcomed. I wonder, sometimes, if her great soul might in any sense be aware, still, of the huge hunger that exists now for her words – words which are at once balm, compassion, contemplation, counsel, ecology, forgiveness, graciousness, gratitude, generosity, love, mercy, prayer, profundity and innumerable rich seams of simplicity, all vital to thriving vivacity and global, universal wellbeing.

This great, greatly beloved wise poet and teacher laughed and loved and prayed and shed tears and wondered and wondered and wondered in her encounters with life’s every gift, grace and mystery. That my new friend should perhaps have taken this volume to her bedside table tonight pleases me no end …

From the poet’s Self-Portrait: (Devotions, page 117)

I wish I was twenty and in love with life
and still full of beans …

Upward, old legs! There are roses, and there is the sea
shining like a song, like a body
I want to touch

though I’m not twenty
and won’t be again but ah! seventy. And still
in love with life. And still
full of beans.

Mary Oliver’s lifetime of devotions always involved showing you and me what poetry – and what life – are for. May friends, writers and readers today be … full of beans.

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