Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Mary Oliver: The Swan

I learned about Mary Oliver from a participant in a wonderful invention called Diktringen (Norwegian word, being the name of a mailing list of daily poems and comments - all directed by one man; impressive!) a few days ago. She is probably well known in the States, but I had, as you understand, never heard of her.

I read a poem called Wild Geese then, and found myself curious to read more of her. Till now, I am not completely won over, but I liked the following poem. Mostly because of the last three lines.

The Swan

Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river?
Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air -
An armful of white blossoms,
A perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned
into the bondage of its wings; a snowbank, a bank of lilies,
Biting the air with its black beak?
Did you hear it, fluting and whistling
A shrill dark music - like the rain pelting the trees - like a waterfall
Knifing down the black ledges?
And did you see it, finally, just under the clouds -
A white cross Streaming across the sky, its feet
Like black leaves, its wings
Like the stretching light of the river?
And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?

Mary Oliver

I like the notion that insights and realizations of truth and beauty shall affect one's life. This is something I have experienced and therefore something know to be true - I don't have to believe it.
The times an insight flutters down on you or materializes like a lightning inside you are moments that stand out. To some extent I would say that they form one's life.
They have mine, anyway.

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