Poem for the Day: September 12th, 2021

Of The Empire by Mary Oliver

We will be known as a culture that feared death 
and adored power, that tried to vanquish insecurity
for the few and cared little for the penury of the
many. We will be known as a culture that taught
and rewarded the amassing of things, that spoke
little if at all about the quality of life for
people (other people), for dogs, for rivers. All
the world, in our eyes, they will say, was a
commodity. And they will say that this structure
was held together politically, which it was, and
they will say also that our politics was no more
than an apparatus to accommodate the feelings of
the heart, and that the heart, in those days,
was small, and hard, and full of meanness.

© 2008 Mary Oliver. From Red Bird: Poems by Mary Oliver, published by Beacon Press in 2008.

No one saw the world as clearly as did Mary Oliver, and no one loved it as fiercely as she did. She would hate what we’re continuing to do to our planet and to each other. What is wrong with a world in which people care more about lining their pockets with more money than they’ll ever need than they do about their fellow humans who are poor and hungry? What beats strangely in our hearts, that makes them so small, and hard, and full of meanness?

I think blind optimism is worse than cruel indifference. It sustains objections to the worst forms of suffering with a simpleton’s simper and the decontextualized murmurings of a seasoned gaslighter.

I won’t pretend to know the answers to these questions. I think blind optimism is worse than cruel indifference. It sustains objections to the worst forms of suffering with a simpleton’s simper and the decontextualized murmurings of a seasoned gaslighter. We are not without hope, but that hope must be doused with passion, and seasoned with care.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter and Instagram @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Poem for the Day: August 28th, 2021

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.

You do not have to be good. 
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile, the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting—
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Quote for the Day: July 24th, 2021

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

Mary Oliver

One of the reasons I love Mary Oliver and her poetry so much is she gives you, me, all of us, permission to be the most authentic versions of ourselves. We can shed the artifice, the smoke and mirrors, the self-flagellation. We can allow ourselves to exist without imposing legalistic strictures on who we are and how we’re supposed to behave. We can be wild, in the purest sense. And how freeing that thought is.

We can shed the artifice, the smoke and mirrors, the self-flagellation. We can allow ourselves to exist without imposing legalistic strictures on who we are and how we’re supposed to behave. We can be wild, in the purest sense.

Sometimes I read Mary Oliver when I need a dose of self-forgiveness. The world teaches us to feel shame, to loathe and condemn, but that is not in our original design. It is okay to just be. For anyone looking for a good place to start reading Mary Oliver’s oeuvre, I’d personally recommend Devotions, because it includes work from all of her previous collections of poetry.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please follow, like, comment, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at thevoraciousbibliophile@yahoo.com or catch me on Twitter @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.