Saturday, January 19, 2019

RIP Mary Oliver, accessible poet of the natural world

Copyright 2011 Joanne R. Fritz

My favorite poem by Mary Oliver, who died Thursday January 17, 2019:

Starlings in Winter

Chunky and noisy,
but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire
and instantly

they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air,
they swing over buildings,

dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
that opens,
becomes for a moment fragmented,

then closes again;
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can’t imagine

how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing,

this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again,
full of gorgeous life.
Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,

even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;

I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard, I want

to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.

~Mary Oliver, from Owls and Other Fantasies: Poems and Essays, 2003

(Many thanks to my source The Exponent II,


  1. I love so many of Mary Oliver's poems (“Rain” and “The Summer Day” are two of my favorites). The one you included is beautiful as well. She will be dearly missed.

    1. Yes, she will! And I love The Summer Day also! Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Beautiful. I have never read this one before. Thanks for posting it.

  3. I'm a huge Mary Oliver fan. Thank you for celebrating her life with this poem, Joanne.

    1. Never realized there were so many of us. Thanks, Michael!


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