My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.
Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and learning to be
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,
which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.
“Am I no longer young, and still half-perfect?”—it’s something of a relief to know I’m not the only one.
Note: This is one in a series of poems selected to help those who may have been intimidated by poetry see that it need not be complicated to be beautiful and meaningful. The series was inspired by National Poetry Month but is extending a bit beyond.
4 thoughts on “Messenger by Mary Oliver”
You can keep the poetry coming. You can make every month national poetry month.
Thank you for this, Rachel. I lost my sister on Sunday and am finding joy at unexpected times. This is one of them.
Oh my goodness. I’m so sorry. I’ll write more offline.
I look forward to reading my Goddaughter’s insights every Tuesday. ‘Nuff said.