The Lark

by Mary Oliver

Original Language English

And I have seen,
at dawn,
the lark
spin out of the long grass

and into the pink air --
its wings,
which are neither wide
nor overstrong,

fluttering --
the pectorals
ploughing and flashing
for nothing but altitude --

and the song
all the while
from the red throat.

And then he descends,
and is sorry.
His little head hangs
and he pants for breath

for a few moments
among the hoops of the grass,
which are crisp and dry,
where most of his living is done --

and then something summons him again
and up he goes,
his shoulders working,
his whole body almost collapsing and floating

to the edges of the world.
We are reconciled, I think,
to too much.
Better to be a bird, like this one --

an ornament of the eternal.
As he came down once, to the nest of the grass,
“Squander the day, but save the soul,”
I heard him say.

-- from What Do We Know: Poems and Prose Poems, by Mary Oliver

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

Something about those closing lines brings a smile to my face:

“Squander the day, but save the soul,”
I heard him say.

It reminds me of Whitman's great line: "I loaf and invite my soul."

A reminder for us all today from the simple wisdom of the lark to be at ease in the timeless. That God-self in each one of us, it is recognized in deep peace, not in our endless doings...

Remember to do a little wise squandering today! :-)

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New and Selected Poems Why I Wake Early Dream Work House of Light Thirst: Poems
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The Lark