Mary Oliver’s Poetry: Reading Her in the Worst of Times

3 months ago

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Last year, astir May, my state was severely deed by the 2nd wave. Every greeting brought atrocious quality of 1 benignant oregon another. Staying awake became a harrowing acquisition successful itself arsenic it meant receiving quality of the deaths of idiosyncratic I loved oregon had loved astatine immoderate point. Deaths that could person been avoided if our authorities was proactive capable to supply capable aesculapian attraction alternatively of wasting wealth connected organizing campaigns and predetermination rallies, and different kinds of tomfoolery diagnostic of those whose megalomania ru(i)ns countries. Taking a time disconnected from the humanitarian situation unfolding successful India was not an enactment for immoderate of us. Not knowing however to beryllium utile successful a dying world, I looked to Mary Oliver’s poesy for answers.

I person ne'er bought into the thought that loved ones go stars aft their death. Stars excessively are mortal. If it was connected maine I would person turned them into ether, the antagonistic blank abstraction wherever stars interval around. Unlike stars, ether lasts for an eternity. In the poem ‘In Blackwater Woods’, Oliver writes, “To unrecorded successful this satellite / you indispensable beryllium capable / to bash 3 things / to emotion what is mortal; to clasp it / against your bones knowing / your ain beingness depends connected it; and, erstwhile the clip comes to fto it go.” Oliver urges america to ne'er marque the mistake of passing up connected a accidental astatine emotion oregon holding connected excessively choky erstwhile its clip comes to an end. Our loved ones mightiness beryllium stars but what we shared with them is ether. Memories outlast clip and times erstwhile the satellite seems similar a spot that doesn’t tolerate joy, revisiting them volition support you striving for life. 

The much melodramatic our authorities grew successful its apathy towards the suffering of its people, the much Indians resorted to societal media to widen immoderate resources they had to those successful need. In her publication Evidence: Poems, Oliver says, “I judge successful kindness. Also successful mischief. Also successful singing, particularly erstwhile singing is not needfully prescribed.” Even though we were obscurity adjacent to being capable to admit euphony again, the corporate kindness of strangers felt similar hope. It seemed similar the full state was surviving by Oliver’s mantra — “Love yourself. Then hide it. Then, emotion the world.” India was going done a melancholic benignant of hypnosis, the benignant wherever you are pulled into relieving days you privation you ne'er had to unrecorded successful the archetypal place. But speechmaking Evidence: Poems made maine believe, and rather powerfully astatine that, that hope, successful each its shapes and sizes, was conscionable astir the country waiting for america to find it. And goodness didn’t request to beryllium rationed arsenic it is ne'er successful constricted supply. Who knows, possibly someday we’ll beryllium allowed glimpses into a satellite wherever animosity and foreboding don’t beryllium astatine all!

Regardless of however hard we tried, tragedies dropped into our satellite constantly. But contempt that, I recovered joyousness successful a “you doing okay? deed maine up if you request anything” substance of a long-lost friend. Joy was besides determination successful watching from my chamber model lockdown babies increasing up into fully-fledged toddlers connected my neighbor’s terrace, connected a peculiarly agleam sunlit afternoon. Was I delusional to inactive person religion successful the world? To consciousness that our everydays volition ne'er not beryllium afloat of changeless reminders of life? I picked up Oliver’s Swans: Poems And Prose Poems and coincidentally she had an answer, ending my quandaries erstwhile and for all. She says:

If you abruptly and unexpectedly consciousness joy, don’t hesitate. Give successful to it. There are plentifulness of lives and full towns destroyed oregon astir to be. We are not wise, and not precise often kind. And overmuch tin ne'er beryllium redeemed. Still beingness has immoderate anticipation left.

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Those of america who survived the 2nd question volition everlastingly transportation the aftermath of a genocide wrong us. It won’t beryllium called a ‘genocide’ by past due to the fact that past is not what happens but who gets to archer the story. However, there’s inactive anticipation successful knowing that having not died together, possibly we volition unrecorded together. Long capable to ‘think again of unsafe and noble things’ and ‘be airy and frolicsome’. And decidedly agelong capable to ‘be improbable beauteous and acrophobic of nothing’, arsenic if we ‘had wings’.