Poetry, for me, is a little like trying to observe a “sabbath.” It shouldn’t feel like a luxury, but I treat it that way. So I subscribed to Poetry – a small journal from the Poetry Foundation (their website is a treasure for finding all things poetic.) In a September ’09 article, Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich writes about her frequent use of poetry in her columns. She referenced the last line of a 1980’s Mary Oliver poem, The Summer Day, which “electrocutes me every time I read it!” I’m not sure if I can print the whole poem here though it’s easy to find on the internet (e.g. here). The poet is strolling through the fields and begins by asking, “Who made the world?” She takes off on a beautifully vivid description of an encounter with a grasshopper, followed by this closing section. Note the question that ends the poem.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?