January 20, 2019

Nature Poet Mary Oliver Passes At 83

"Go easy, be filled with light, and shine."

I discovered American poet Mary Oliver in 2014, when I was introduced to her poem "Wild Geese", which I thought had a Zen quality to it. I shared that work in a post that can be found here

This week I discovered that Oliver had sloughed off this mortal coil and returned to her love, Nature, and The One. Now she is the honking of the geese, the light flowing from the tree's branches, the joy of nature itself.

I can't think of another poet that even comes close to accurately describing the way I feel when I am in Nature. In her time on Earth, she knew the ecstasy of the natural world, and that was reflected in her words. I am happy to say that I feel it, too.

Her wisdom and love of solitude and all things natural made her unique among the poets. Her work is a salve to coat the sores of sickness and surreality caused by the built environment, boring careers, and the tedium of social conventions.

When I Am Among The Trees

When I am among the trees, especially the willows and the honey locust, equally the beech, the oaks and the pines, they give off such hints of gladness. I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself, in which I have goodness, and discernment, and never hurry through the world but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves and call out, “Stay awhile.” The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,“and you too have come into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled with light, and to shine.”

Finally, some thoughts from Oliver's "When Death Comes":

When it's over, I want to say all my life I was a bride married to amazement. 
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms. 
When it's over, I don't want to wonder if I have made of my life something particular, and real. 
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened, or full of argument. 
I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

I love Mary Oliver, celebrate her contributions, and mark her passing at 83 years of experience.

Thank you, Mary.


  1. Thank you for this post about Mary Oliver. I too love her poetry. It is good to know someone else will miss her.


    1. As far as I am concerned, people should read less "news", and more poetry. The poets, including the amazing works of Mary Oliver, have a lot to teach us about seeing the world in different ways.

  2. Anonymous1/22/2019

    This Mary Oliver poem below was included in a daily newsletter I get from the Old Farmer's Almanac:

    Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
    the world offers itself to your imagination,
    calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting,
    over and over announcing your place,
    in the family of things.
    --Mary Oliver

    Love these words, as I do love to hear and watch geese fly overhead - one of the most wonderful joys of life. Thank you Gregg, I've started reading the news again for some reason (I boycotted it for several months) and I find myself not sleeping well and feeling anxious. I'll turn to poetry and other healing words instead.


  3. Today in a mindfulness group I've started attending, someone mentioned Mary Oliver's passing and poems. The woman had read some of Mary's poems before, but only lately realized the she wasn't writing "about" flowers or trees, she was writing about being "with them." Like being among them. Her sharing gave me hope, hope that being mindful can help someone see things another way and understand Mary Oliver's writing and experience in a new way, more the way Mary intended. The woman seemed to like that she Cous now be with things instead of anyalyzing and being judgmental. She could just "be."

    Thank you Mary (comment above) for the Poem you posted.

    I remember your post about Wild Geese without having to go re-read it. It stuck with me. Very nice tribute Gregg, thank you so much.


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