Fall Song, Mary Oliver

I have to confess that I do not really know the poetry of Mary Oliver. However, in her newsletter today, Adriene Mishler (from Yoga with Adriene) quoted one of her poems, ‘The Messenger‘, to reflect on belonging and taking time to stand still. She also quoted another her poems earlier this year, ‘The Summer Day‘, about connecting with the world around you. There is a lot of sentiment in her poems that resonates with me – taking time to enjoy the natural world to find meaning and solace, which has certainly been a theme this year. One quote stands out: ‘Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed’ from the poem, ‘It was Early‘. Oliver’s love of the natural world comes across in so many of her poems and so I got reading and thought she would be a good choice for today. And she writes about Autumn, which seemed appropriate for today which was a day of much autumn weather – beautiful sunshine, torrential rain, gusty winds and a fantastic triple rainbow. I found three of her poems about Autumn – Fall, Fall Song and Song for Autumn – but Fall Song reminded me the most of the changeable weather of today where despite everything dying, there is life in the change. The sense of seizing that opportunity, particularly in lockdown is appropriate too, where I managed a walk with a dear friend despite the crazy weather.

Fall Song

Another year gone by, leaves everywhere
its rich spiced residues: vines, leaves,

the uneaten fruits crumbling damply
in the shadows, unmattering black

from the particular island
of the summer, this NOW, that now is nowhere

except underfoot, moldering
in that black, subterranean castle

of unobservable mysteries – roots and sealed seeds
and the wandering of water. This

I try to remember when time’s measure
painfully chafes, for instance when autumn

flares out at the last, boisterous and like us longing
to stay – how everything lives, shifting

from one bright vision to another, forever
in these momentary pastures.

1983 from American Primitive.

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