National Poetry Month 2023: Day 2

I sometimes find Mary Oliver’s poetry to be soothing. 

This is a time of high anxiety for a lot of people, myself and my family included. A lot of the things I worry about are not insignificant. Some are even existential and cannot be brushed away with a poem.

But sometimes I find myself fretting about daily minutiae. Logistics. Inconsequential details. And then, this poem helps. 

“I Worried” by Mary Oliver

I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall
I correct it?
Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?
Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it and I am, well,
hopeless.
Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
lockjaw, dementia?
Finally, I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
and sang.

***

Mary Jane Oliver (September 10, 1935 – January 17, 2019) was an American poet who won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Her work is inspired by nature, rather than the human world, stemming from her lifelong passion for solitary walks in the wild. It is characterized by a sincere wonderment at the impact of natural imagery, conveyed in unadorned language. In 2007 she was declared to be the country’s best-selling poet. (This biographical information is quoted from Wikipedia.)

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