by Mary Oliver

Page 2

If I could sing, I would sing a poem. So many of them have that music, of course, of the hymns, that they almost make you try to do it. I won't try. This one, especially, I didn't know before, and thought such a pleasure. I love the repetitions of the lines, which is something which of course I do in my own work. It's a little bit unlike her usual phrasing, a little bit different.

Under the Light, yet under,
Under the Grass and the Dirt.
Under the Beetle's Cellar
Under the Clover's Root,

Further than Arm could stretch
Were it Giant long,
Further than Sunshine could
Were the Day Year long,

Over the Light, yet over,
Over the Arc of the Bird -
Over the comet's chimney -
Over the Cubit's Head,

Further than Guess can gallop
Further than Riddle ride -
Oh for a Disc to the Distance
Between Ourselves and the Dead!

(JP 949)

And the one, which of course will be familiar to all of us.

Because I could not stop for Death -
He kindly stopped for me -
The Carriage held but just Ourselves -
And Immortality.

We slowly drove - He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility -

We passed the School, where the Children strove
At Recess - in the Ring -
We passed the Fields of Grazing Grain -
We passed the Setting Sun -

Or rather - He passed Us -
The Dews drew quivering and chill -
For only Gossamer, my gown -
My Tippet - only Tulle -

We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground -
The Roof was scarcely visible -
The Cornice - in the Ground -

Since then - 'tis Centuries - and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses Heads
Were toward Eternity -

(JP 712)

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