The Summer Day – Mary Oliver – 1992
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
Writing anything after this seems almost arrogant. How could I possibly speak another word to break the trance of the beauty of this poem.
In my quest to remember the deep feminine part of myself, the ability to be ‘idle in the fields’ for a whole day sounds so decadent, so alien to the work-a-holic self I have spent years cultivating. I am not sure I could allow myself this luxury. Yet we (in the world of the G20) have become so disconnected for the earth, from nature, from beauty. Always in a hurry, always so much to be done. We have forgotten how to cultivate a garden, live off the earth, feel the sand/soil/grass beneath bare feet. To do nothing, and in the doing of nothing, be everything.
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?