Thursday, July 16, 2009

Such Singing


Such Singing...

I often stop in my tracks
to listen to a bird singing
in the forest,
on the river
or at home across the creek
and I let myself enter
the song, melt into
the sunlight,
dissolve into the breeze
and merge
with the tune,
if only for a moment...

I can't believe
I have gone my entire life
without knowing Mary Oliver
Yet it seems as if she has
always been at my side
been my mentor - in absentia
if that is possible

Not that I want to be a poet
although I would love
to weave words well
but rather, I want to take her lead
and learn to completely
lose myself,
to yield,
to lose myself in leaves
in birdsong, in the glinting river
and trembling forest
to lose myself in sun
and wind
and rain,
in life

if only for a moment...

Such Singing in the Wild Branches - Mary Oliver

It was spring
and finally I heard him
among the first leaves—
then I saw him clutching the limb

in an island of shade
with his red-brown feathers
all trim and neat for the new year.
First, I stood still

and thought of nothing.
Then I began to listen.
Then I was filled with gladness—
and that's when it happened,

when I seemed to float,
to be, myself, a wing or a tree—
and I began to understand
what the bird was saying,

and the sands in the glass
for a pure white moment
while gravity sprinkled upward

like rain, rising,
and in fact
it became difficult to tell just what it was that was singing—
it was the thrush for sure, but it seemed

not a single thrush, but himself, and all his brothers,
and also the trees around them,
as well as the gliding, long-tailed clouds
in the perfectly blue sky— all, all of them

were singing.
And, of course, yes, so it seemed,
so was I.
Such soft and solemn and perfect music doesn't last

for more than a few moments.
It's one of those magical places wise people
like to talk about.
One of the things they say about it, that is true,

is that, once you've been there,
you're there forever.
Listen, everyone has a chance.
Is it spring, is it morning?

Are there trees near you,
and does your own soul need comforting?
Quick, then— open the door and fly on your heavy feet; the song
may already be drifting away



  1. hi delwyn, the very first bird is just starting to sing here. it's 4:28 a.m. these are beautiful paintings and beautiful words by mary. like you, i've been struck by the openness of her experiencing of nature to herself and then from herself to her writing. i love this: "the sands in the glass stopped for a pure white moment
    while gravity sprinkled upward like rain, rising" as well as "once you've been there, you're there forever." so beautiful! have a peaceful day. steven

  2. From my dinner time to you arising hello Steven...

    Well you are up at "sparrow fart" - do you have that coarse saying?

    Yes those lines caught me too. I kept reading them over...

    Isn't it wonderful what we can share this way and spread the pleasure around...

    Happy days Steven

  3. Listen, everyone has a chance.
    Is it spring, is it morning?

    The line above so spoke to me...
    I love to be up predawn and Listen to the birds break the Silent Morning...especially in the Spring.

    I may just have to buy Mary Oliver's book!
    Thank you Delwyn!

  4. Hello dear Delwyn,

    As I read this post, I'm sitting by an open window listening to the birds. There are a few notes of the elusive song birds, mixed with chirping, squawking and the cawing of crows. More Aaron Copland than Mozart, but with its owns beauty among the sounds of distant traffic and the gently rustling summer leaves just outside my window. I love this time of year, this time of day, before the humid heat sets in.

    I think you have made us all fans of Mary Oliver! And you have made us all more aware of the beauty in our own little parts of the world by showing us the spectacular scenery, flora and fauna of your magnificent little corner of Australia.

    From one clever pixie to another, I thank you.
    Thank you, too, for always leaving such marvelous comments on my posts. I really appreciate them!


  5. hi again delwyn, actually here it's the first robin's fart!!! it is wonderful that we all share our joy and discoveries so freely. have a peaceful day. steven

  6. You might not call yourself a poet but the text that introduced us to Mary was as poetic as the poem that followed. Many thanks.

    Greetings from London.

  7. Delwyn everything about this post is amazing.

    Thank you Delwyn for the poem and please thank your friend too. It is exactly what I was trying to say only really beautiful.

    Love Renee xoxoxo

  8. I think it's fantastic that you have just now found Mary Oliver. It's all still ahead for you, all of her genius and all of her amazing poetry. She really gets it, doesn't it?

    Cyndy at the photocynthesis blog (she is a musician) has transcribed the song of the woodthrush (just a day or two ago).

    I, too, have been deep in listening to birdsong. What a beautiful sound.

    I'm so happy you're getting better. Being grounded is so wrong for you.

  9. I too knew not of Mary Oliver! Exquisite work. I will be looking for more, Delwyn! So much that we take for granted every day, including the bird song.I have often stopped in my tracks to listen to a warble or two. It goes with "Take time to stop and smell the Roses".

    BTW; the crockpot dish can be down in a pot on the stove. I have done it this way as well. It's super delicious. Simmer for about 4 hours.

  10. I appreciate Mary Oliver for her simplicity. Having to read too much into poetry exhausts me.
    The birds have been singing their hearts out in the morning, the afternoon and the evening. It seems to be no longer just a dusk and dawn thing.

  11. What lovely words to put us in touch and appreciate the many sounds and sights around us.

    Thanks, Delwin.

  12. Good morning Wanda

    I think that you will love her poems...Let me look at the 3 volumes I have and suggest one...

    I have been waddling around on my deck trying to find the singer in the tree who has such a lovely tune but he is remaining incognito...

    Happy days

  13. Hello Angela

    The start to the day is always filled with promise for me, and the birdy prelude sets the mood...

    What is a group of pixies called? a coven?

    It's nice to have you visiting Angela

    Happy days

  14. Good Morning Mr C

    Why thank you for your generosity once again Mr really know how to ensure that a blogger keeps blogging - such reinforcement...

    Happy days

  15. Hi Renee

    Wasn't that a treat...

    OH such wonderful convergence of thoughts and synchronicity...

    Happy days

  16. Reya

    aren't I lucky...and now with this extra time on my hands (some could say on my feet) and can peruse her work at leisure, bask in it...

    Thanks for your kind thoughts and link.

    Happy days

  17. Oh Lorac,

    she is such a treat - so perfectly able to spell out our love of the outdoors and all of its contents...

    Yes I had the same idea about the pot and will try that...

    Happy days

  18. Violet - Hi there,

    I agree. I don't mind a little metaphor here and there but when it becomes so abstruse that the meaning seems to be only known to the writer then it loses me too.

    Enjoy the bounty of birdies...

    Happy days

  19. Hello Rosaria

    I am so grateful to those bloggers who introduced me to the wonderful M.O.

    Happy days

  20. Oh how I share this with you Delwyn. I sleep with my window open and every morning I wake to the birds. Sometimes at 4:30 I wake and smile and go back to sleep. I walk out in my yard and close my eyes and listen. I walk around any one of the lakes near by and I sit for a few minutes and close my eyes and listen.

    It is glorious!

  21. How lovely, the brushstrokes of flowering branch, singing birds, and even the moon. I have an interesting (if maybe a little too pedantic) book called Why Birds Sing, a journey into the mystery of bird song. David Rothennerg enters aviaries and plays his clarinet; the birds trill back, and there is even something of a dialogue. He writes down their songs as notes on a score. Of course, it means something--I'm hungry; someone is coming; young ones, sit still--but for me I just listen to the sheer beauty. What a great idea to record the birdsong yesterday! We can all listen whenever we want. Thanks, Delwyn! "It does last for more than a few moments!"

  22. Grace

    isn't that the perfect way to start the day?

    Communing and gratitude all rolled into one...

    Happy days

  23. Hi there Margaret from Sat morn now...

    The magnolias in the top print really appeal to me as do the birds... I used this print to make a postcard as if one bird is saying to her mate "Aren't the magnolias just wonderful dear.."

    That Willy Wagtail on the tape was singing to me believe it or not. When he stopped I talked back and he began again...

    It stays with us forever...

    Happy days

  24. I'm excited to see you have discovered Mary Oliver. She strings words together like pearls. I love EVERY word in her poem, "Wild Geese", but here are a few lines to tease you into getting her books:

    "You do not have to be good.
    You do not have to walk on your knees
    For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting,
    You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.
    Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
    Meanwhile the world goes on . . ."

    Her poetry is as sweet as a bird's song.

    Thank you for nudging me to think about M. O. today.

  25. Hello Bonnie

    thank you for that snippet. I have read it on other blogs and it too was one of the prompts for me buying some of her volumes.

    There are many of us enamoured and touched by her writing - perhaps because it is so accessible.

    Happy days

  26. I love listening to birdsong too...

  27. This bird looks like a Kingfishes to me:)

  28. I am a big fan of Mary Oliver. Each of her poems is like a walk in the woods. She is so thankful for all that she sees in the forest...a good way to live. Thanks for sharing. All the best- LL

  29. Hi Lorenzo
    It is nice to catch up with you.

    That's right - each poem is a little journey and you slowly get introduced to all that she sees and feels...I love the slow pace, the sincerity and succinct way she writes - no effusiveness, no pretensions, just Mary and nature...and gratitude...

    Happy days

  30. Yoon see
    My photo at the bottom is a kookaburra which does resemble a little squat kingfisher except he laughs uproariously...

    Happy days


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.