Mary Oliver Monday: “Creative Work”

Creative work needs solitude. It needs concentration, without interruptions. It needs the whole sky to fly in, and no eye watching until it comes to that certainty which it aspires to, but does not necessarily have at once. Privacy, then. A place apart—to pace, to chew pencils, to scribble and erase and scribble again. . . . In creative work—creative work of all kinds—those who are the world’s working artists are not trying to help the world go around, but forward. . . . The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.

—Mary Oliver, Upstream

Mary Oliver Monday: “My Delicious Dark Happiness”

For hours I wandered
over the fields

and the only thing that kept me company
was a song,
it glided along
with my delicious dark happiness,

my heavy,
bristling and aching delight
at the world
which has been like this

forever and ever–
the leaves,
the birds, the ponds,
the loneliness,

and, sometimes,
from a lifetime ago
and another country
such a willing and lilting companion—

a song
made so obviously for me.
At what unknowable cost.
And by a stranger.

—Mary Oliver, from “Ich Bin Der Welt Abhanden Gekommen,” House of Light

Pablo Neruda Thursday: “In the Night We Shall Go In”

In the night we shall go in
to steal
a flowering branch.

We shall climb over the wall
in the darkness of the alien garden,
two shadows in the shadow.

Winter is not yet gone,
and the apple tree appears
suddenly changed
into a cascade of fragrant stars.

In the night we shall go in
up to its trembling firmament,
and your little hands and mine
will steal the stars.

And silently,
to our house,
in the night and the shadow,
with your steps will enter
perfume’s silent step
and with starry feet
the clear body of spring.

—Pablo Neruda, “The Stolen Branch,” The Captain’s Verses

Walt Whitman Wednesday: “Darest Thou Now O Soul”

Darest thou O soul,
Walk out with me toward the unknown region,
Where neither ground is for the feet nor any path to follow?

No map there, no guide,
Nor voice sounding, nor touch of human hand,
Nor face with blooming flesh, nor lips, nor eyes, are in that land.

I know it not O soul,
Nor does thou, all is a blank before us,
All waits undream’d of in that region, that inaccessible land.

Till when the ties loosen,
All but the ties eternal, Time and Space,
Nor darkness, gravitation, sense, nor any bounds bounding us.

Then we burst forth, we float,
In Time and Space O soul, prepared for them,
Equal, equipt at last, (O joy! O fruit of all!) them to fulfill O soul.

—Walt Whitman, “Darest Thou Now O Soul,” Leaves of Grass

Mary Oliver Monday: “My Attention on Eternity”

Sometimes the desire to be lost again, as long ago, comes over me like a vapor. With growth into adulthood, responsibilities claimed me, so many heavy coats. I didn’t choose them, I don’t fault them, but it took time to reject them. Now in the spring I kneel, I put my face into the packets of violets, the dampness, the freshness, the sense of ever-ness. Something is wrong, I know it, if I don’t keep my attention on eternity. May I be the tiniest nail in the house of the universe, tiny but useful. May I stay forever in the stream.

—Mary Oliver, Upstream

Wildcard Friday: “I Would Live in Your Love”

I would live your love as the sea-grasses live in the sea,
Borne up by each wave as it passes, drawn down by each wave that recedes;
I would empty my soul of the dreams that have gathered in me,
I would beat with your heart as it beats, I would follow your soul as it leads.

—Sara Teasdale, “I Would Live in Your Love,” The Collected Poems