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Spring, Indeed

March 22, 2011

The calendar says it’s finally Spring. The view from my window does not agree. Regardless, here’s a bit of spring from a favorite poet, Mary Oliver. Enjoy.

Such Singing in the Wild Branches (2003)

It was spring

and finally I heard him

among the first leaves—

then I saw him clutching the limb

in an island of shade

with his red-brown feathers

all trim and neat for the new year.

First, I stood still

and thought of nothing.

Then I began to listen.

Then I was filled with gladness—

and that’s when it happened,

when I seemed to float,

to be, myself, a wing or a tree—

and I began to understand

what the bird was saying,

and the sands in the glass

stopped

for a pure white moment

while gravity sprinkled upward

like rain, rising,

and in fact

it became difficult to tell just what it was that was singing—

it was the thrush for sure, but it seemed

not a single thrush, but himself, and all his brothers,

and also the trees around them,

as well as the gliding, long-tailed clouds

in the perfectly blue sky— all, all of them

were singing.

And, of course, yes, so it seemed,

so was I.

Such soft and solemn and perfect music doesn’t last

for more than a few moments.

It’s one of those magical places wise people

like to talk about.

One of the things they say about it, that is true,

is that, once you’ve been there,

you’re there forever.

Listen, everyone has a chance.

Is it spring, is it morning?

Are there trees near you,

and does your own soul need comforting?

Quick, then— open the door and fly on your heavy feet; the song

may already be drifting away.

— Mary Oliver, “Such Singing in the Wild Branches”

Owls and Other Fantasies: Poems and Essays,

Beacon Press, Boston, 2003, pp. 8-9

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