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Monday, 1 March 2010

The Swan by Mary Oliver

Rather like going for a walk in a wood and coming across a most unexpected treasure is the feeling of discovering a new poem from a great poet. I am almost ashamed to write that 26 years after Mary Oliver won the Pulitzer Prize, I only heard of her yesterday - and what a stunning writer she is! There is so much beauty in all of her poetry that it is impossible to say which is a favourite, and 'The Swan' is but a small example of her genius.

Perhaps it's appropriate after such a bleak winter that now, as we step into the overture of spring with the beginning of March, some new loveliness appears!

Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river?
Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air -
An armful of white blossoms,
A perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned
into the bondage of its wings; a snowbank, a bank of lilies,
Biting the air with its black beak?
Did you hear it, fluting and whistling
A shrill dark music - like the rain pelting the trees - like a waterfall
Knifing down the black ledges?
And did you see it, finally, just under the clouds -
A white cross Streaming across the sky, its feet
Like black leaves, its wings Like the stretching light of the river?
And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?

(I took this poem from the wonder 'Poet Seers' site - I trust that is alright by the creators of that lovely site)

Mary Oliver - Poet Seers

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