Jan 27 2016

Mary Oliver – The Lark

Published by at 9:31 am under Poetry

The Lark
by Mary Oliver

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
bursting
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


/ Image by kkart /

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! 🙂


Recommended Books: Mary Oliver

Why I Wake Early New and Selected Poems House of Light American Primitive What Do We Know: Poems and Prose Poems
More Books >>


Mary Oliver, Mary Oliver poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry Mary Oliver

US (1935 – )
Secular or Eclectic

Mary Oliver was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1935.

As a young writer, Mary Oliver was influenced by Edna St. Vincent Millay and, in fact, as a teenager briefly lived in the home of the recently deceased Millay, helping to organize Millay’s papers.

Mary Oliver attended college at Ohio State University, and later at Vassar College.

Mary Oliver’s poetry is deeply aware of the natural world, particularly the birds and trees and ponds of her adopted state of Massachusetts.

Her collection of poetry “American Primitive” won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1984.

More poetry by Mary Oliver

5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Mary Oliver – The Lark”

  1. Barbara Mayeron 27 Jan 2016 at 1:02 pm

    I hope to do a little squandering today. Birds are wise. I can almost hear the lark singing his heart out. Birds are truly “ornaments of the eternal.”

  2. Johnthebarmanon 28 Jan 2016 at 3:30 am

    Thanks Ivan for a perfect poem. It will sustain me through this wet winter day. Wonderful to hear that summons.

  3. […] SOURCE: http://www.poetry-chaikhana.com/blog/2016/01/27/mary-oliver-the-lark-2/#comment-791422 […]

  4. Johnthebarmanon 29 Jan 2016 at 6:36 am

    He who binds to himself a joy
    Does the winged life destroy;
    But he who kisses the joy as it flies
    Lives in eternity’s sun rise.

    William Blake

  5. Aparna Sonamon 31 Jan 2016 at 9:05 pm

    I have done this all of the past two years. And the justification I give myself is this very poem- ‘save my soul’

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