by Mary Oliver

Page 3

I will read about half poems from American Primitive, the last book to come out and about half from a new book that will be out next month. It's called Dream Work and I'll start with one of those. I thought it was a nice one to start with. Dickinson's work is so studded with light and I have a previous book called Twelve Moons. I seem to have been kind of soaked in the moon during that period of time. Now, I can't bear to miss a sunrise. I seem to have a lot of poems about the sun coming up. This is called "Morning Poem."

Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange

sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches-
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails
for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it

the thorn
that is heavier than lead-
if it's all you can do
to keep on trudging-

there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted-

each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.

  previous page
next page
table of contents
search the archives

  Titanic Operas Main Page
Copyright 1999 by Martha Nell Smith, all rights reserved
Maintained by Rebecca Mooney  <>
Last updated on March 10, 2008
Dickinson Electronic Archives