A New Voice Which You Slowly Recognized As Your Own

Mary Oliver early in life. A new voice which you slowly recognized as your own

The poetry world is celebrating the life and mourning the loss of Mary Oliver, who died on Thursday, January 17 at the age of 83. Detailed obituaries have appeared in many places, including the New York Times and the Boston Globe.

A new voice which you slowly recognized as your own

A field of sunflowers. A new voice which you slowly recognized as your own.
Step 329 of 365 of Steps to Knowledge, “I am free to love the world today.” In the poem “Messenger,” Mary Oliver wrote “My work is loving the world.”

Minnesota poet Robert Bly introduced me to Mary Oliver sometime in the 00’s. He included some of her poems in the anthology “The Soul Is Here For Its Own Joy.” “Maybe” is one of those poems. I have shared other poems by her in this space. Enjoying her appreciation, her astonishment of nature is for me like drinking clean spring water. Even when she was unhappy, as in the poem “Extending the Airport Runway,” there wasn’t a trace of bitterness or smartassery.

Flatiron Mountains, Boulder, Colorado. A new voice which you slowly recognized as your own
Part of the text of Chapter 5 of Greater Community Spirituality, “What is Human Purpose?”

A person who took the journey.

Steps to Knowledge is the book of spiritual practice of the New Message from God. A fellow student of Steps to Knowledge shared the following Mary Oliver poem with me as a description of the Steps to Knowledge experience. This poem is called “The Journey.

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save

Young girl meditating under an artwork. A new voice which you slowly recognized as your own
Step 75 of Steps to Knowledge, “Today I will listen to myself.”

She wrote of the journey. She took the journey.

“The Journey” is one of the relatively few Mary Oliver poems where audio of her reciting the poem is available.

Video of Mary Oliver reciting her poem “The Journey”

Did she accomplish her mission?

Mary Oliver near the end of her life. A new voice which you slowly recognized as your own
Mary Oliver near the end of her wild, precious life

I don’t know. Maybe she had an entirely different mission than loving the world. But I’m glad she loved the world. Maybe she had an entirely different mission than being married to amazement. But I say it was a fruitful marriage. She wrote of a new voice which you slowly recognized as your own. I say she heard that voice.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! Добро пожаловать в Тайну просветления! We document the study of the New Message from God in general, and the book Steps to Knowledge in particular. Мы тут делимся своим опытом изучения Нового Послания от Бога, в общем, и книги Шаги к Знанию в частности. Find out more about us here. Узнайте больше о нас здесь. Find out how to contact us here. Узнайте, как связаться с нами здесь.

Astonishment, Rejoicing, Gratitude

Step329-field-of-sunflowers Astonishment, rejoicing, gratitude

Loving a world that is full of error and its consequences takes some work. I’ve been told to beware the world’s persuasions. And yet, I’ve been told the world needs my efforts to become a better and stronger person.

Astonishment, rejoicing, gratitude

When much is required of me, I find poetry to be a great consolation. I have shared four poems by the American poet Mary Oliver so far. The poem “Messenger” appeared in the book “Thirst,” published in 2007.

Messenger

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird — equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.
Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect?
Let me keep my mind on what matters, which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium. The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,
which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes, a mouth with which to give shouts of joy to the moth
and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam, telling them all,
over and over, how it is that we live forever.

Astonishment, rejoicing, gratitude. I have taken the liberty of making two versions of this poem, one without music, and one with music.

Astonishment, rejoicing, gratitude. The speaker for each species must say something to that species. Can I tell a dying species how it is that we live forever? All I know to say at this point is “I’m sorry” and “Please forgive me.” I’m not as pure as Mary Oliver yet, but I’m working on it.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! Добро пожаловать в Тайну просветления! We document the study of the New Message from God in general, and the book Steps to Knowledge in particular. Мы тут делимся своим опытом изучения Нового Послания от Бога, в общем, и книги Шаги к Знанию в частности. Find out more about us here. Узнайте больше о нас здесь. Find out how to contact us here. Узнайте, как связаться с нами здесь.