Mary Oliver

The Summer Day

by Mary Oliver

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?


I began this post with just Oliver’s poem because there is no way to introduce it. It is, perhaps, the most lovely thought-provoking poem. I don’t pray. Much. But I think. A lot. Usually outside. My son calls it listening to the wind. Perhaps that is what I do. I find myself stopped in mid-something watching the spider make his way across the log and over the stones. His delicate legs quickly carrying his compact body. Searching out the safest route. Turning quickly to avoid a trap. Where does it go? To a home? To other spiders? What does it think?  Does it know what I don’t? I don’t have the answers to the big questions but I believe that comfort, peace, and knowledge are there if we stop and wonder.




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