The Summer Day by Mary Oliver is one of my all-time favorite poems, known best for its final passage, which to me is a blatant wake-up call dressed as a beautiful invitation.
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?
Mary Oliver (1935-2019) was a Pulitzer prize-winning poet, amongst many other acclaims awarded her. She is best known for she is known for her introspective yet simultaneously joyous poetry often of her clear and poignant observances of the natural world, having been influenced by Henry David Thoreau and Walt Whitman and compared to Emily Dickinson. She has written countless books of poetry collections.
Please share your thoughts on this poem. I would love to hear how it affects you!