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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger
This is one of my favorite poems by Mary Oliver. It speaks to so many levels of the human experience.
Look, the trees
their own bodies
Those opening lines draw me in every time I read them. They remind me that nature, too, is a heavenly realm. But there is also the beginning hint of loss here, something evanescent and fleeting. It as if these trees, in their glow, are fading from the physical world, receding from us. It is a lovely, melancholy sort of transcendence.
Lines in this poem also suggest to me, at times, formless awareness:
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is
Notice the intentional ambiguity of that final line break above. She could be saying that the ponds are now nameless, or that they are nameless Now, nameless Presence. Contemplating that double meaning can throw the mind into meditation.
She uses a similar line break immediately preceding that: "name is, is". The break forces us unconsciously to think of how no matter what a place (or person) is named, it IS. It's existence is undeniable, not somehow dependent on definitions or categories or names. The line break tricks the mind into contemplating the relationship between being and name.
But the part of the poem that touches me most is the courageous willingness to embrace both connection and loss:
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.
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M. Granger's original poetry, stories and commentaries are Copyright ©
2002 - 2011 by Ivan M. Granger.
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