I know, you never intended to be in this world.
But you’re in it all the same.
so why not get started immediately.
I mean, belonging to it.
There is so much to admire, to weep over.
And to write music or poems about.
Bless the feet that take you to and fro.
Bless the eyes and the listening ears.
Bless the tongue, the marvel of taste.
You could live a hundred years, it’s happened.
I am speaking from the fortunate platform
of many years,
none of which, I think, I ever wasted.
Do you need a prod?
Do you need a little darkness to get you going?
Let me be urgent as a knife, then,
and remind you of Keats,
so single of purpose and thinking, for a while,
he had a lifetime.
This is the third section of a longer poem you can read by clicking on the link above. Mary Oliver’s poetry has such a directness about it that I can’t help but get caught by it, carried along by her words. The way she suggests that since you are already in this world, why not get started immediately?
She invites us to belong to this world, to admire, to weep, to write music or poems about it. She offers blessings to the senses we usually take for granted. And tells us we could live a long life. Or not, life and death being unpredictable.
Do you need a prod? Do you need a little darkness to get you going? How can we not be surprised out of complacency by such questions? She reminds us of the poet Keats who died at 23 of tuberculosis, his life’s work and love unfulfilled, thinking he had forever to do all he wanted.
Let me be urgent as a knife Oliver says here and in ways she does throughout her poetry: pay attention to the world, be here, don’t wait. It never hurts to be reminded that each day is important and won’t be repeated despite our groundhog sense of these days now. Perhaps this poem may be a prod for you today.