sunday bear: mary oliver from New and Selected Poems (1992)

“Buster and Betty Sue” by Barbara McConnell (yellow mohair, matching outfits, gold heart studs, 1987)



The Sun
by Mary Oliver

Have you ever seen
in your life
more wonderful

than the way the sun,
every evening,
relaxed and easy,
floats toward the horizon

and into the clouds or the hills,
or the rumpled sea,
and is gone —
and how it slides again

out of the blackness,
every morning,
on the other side of the world,
like a red flower

streaming upward on its heavenly oils,
say, on a morning in early summer,
at its perfect imperial distance —
and have you ever felt for anything

such wild love —
do you think there is anywhere, in any language,
a word billowing enough
for the pleasure

that fills you,
as the sun
reaches out,
as it warms you

as you stand there,
empty-handed —
or have you too
turned from this world —

or have you too
gone crazy
for power,
for things?

© 1992 Mary Oliver (New and Selected Poems, Beacon Press). All rights reserved.


♥ Last Week’s Door Prize Winners ♥

Water Sings Blue by Kate Coombs and Meilo So: Irene Latham from Live Your Poem

Guacamole by Jorge Argueta and Margarita Sada: Michelle from Peaceful Reader

My Father’s House by Kathi Appelt and Raul Colon: Cathy from Merely Day by Day

Congratulations, Irene, Michelle and Cathy!
Please send me your snail mail address: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com.

Thanks for all your great comments, everyone!


Week of April 16-21, 2012

Guest Poets:

  • April 16: Linda Baie
  • April 17: Lesa Medley
  • April 18: Leslie Muir
  • April 19: Margarita Engle
  • April 20: Sondra Gash

Door Prizes:

  • The President’s Stuck in the Bathtub by Susan Katz and Robert Neubecker (Clarion, 2012)
  • unBEElievables by Douglas Florian (Beach Lane Books, 2012) ♥ Previously unannounced, surprise prize ♥

*Comment on any post during the week to be eligible to win!


♥ Today’s Sunday Bear Hug is brought to you by Mr. Cornelius, who is seriously considering moving to the Lake District to become a Romantic poet.



Copyright © 2012 Cornelius Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights with the daffodils.

14 thoughts on “sunday bear: mary oliver from New and Selected Poems (1992)

  1. I am definitely in love with Mary Oliver now. Reading her poem aloud has made me grateful for the fact that I have the sun (and the wind) throughout the year here in Singapore. There was a time during my teenage years when I was simply IN LOVE with the sun, just basking at the golden rays (this was before I knew about sunblock, hence my freckles now). This is something I share with the lovely Mary Oliver though. Thank you for sharing this beautiful poem this sunny Sunday!


    1. We are having a beautiful sunny day here in Virginia. I love the immense gratitude that overflows from Mary’s poems, because yes, all of us need to be reminded sometimes not to take certain things for granted, and to celebrate nature’s miracles. The elementals — air, water, sun — we could not exist without them. Here before we arrived on the scene, there long after we’re gone.


  2. We too have the sun most of the time in Colorado & depend on it, I think. We are rather whiney when it’s cloudy. Thank you for these beautiful words from Mary Oliver, Jama. They are a good way to start the day! I love “a word billowing enough”.


  3. This morning, briefly, we had searing warm sun, and I sat down in the garden with tea and a friend and thought, YAY!

    …and then ten minutes later it was freezing, and we wimped out and ran indoors.

    But, I am pleased to note, I have not gone crazy for power and things. I am so enamored of the lazy relaxation engendered by the sun; all the more for so rarely seeing it…


    1. I pretty much took the sun for granted till I lived in England, so I know exactly what you mean. Glad to hear you did enjoy a dose of sunny goodness however brief. 🙂


  4. Growing up in Florida, I remember struggling through my first winter with gray in it – way up “north” in South Carolina! ;0) I do love the sun, and this wonderful Mary Oliver poem. Thanks for sharing. Oh, and does Mr. Cornelius need a chaperone – or a ward? – if he goes to the Lake District to become a romantic poet? I could learn to love that English weather….


    1. Glad you liked the poem, Robyn. Mr. Cornelius would be happy to have you accompany him to the Lake District. He envisions many quiet afternoon teas where oatmeal jam bars are served with his favorite Darjeeling. He wants to know, are you good at reading aloud? Can you cultivate daffodils?


  5. do you think there is anywhere, in any language,
    a word billowing enough
    for the pleasure

    that fills you,
    as the sun
    reaches out,
    as it warms you

    Ah, Mary Oliver – I adore her. I was just reading Blue Iris last night and thinking to myself what a gift I gave myself when I first discvered this marvelous poet. Thanks for sharing this, Jama!


  6. Woohoo, for WATER SINGS BLUE! Thank you, Jama! I adore Kate’s work. ADORE it. And Mary Oliver. I went to a reading of hers last year, and it was very strange. My relationship to her work on the page is so deep and abiding. She as a person did not match (for me) what I feel when I read her words. (We bring so much of ourselves to the page.) It’s made me a little reluctant to seek out other poets whose work means so much to me. I don’t think anyone can match the meaning I’ve attached to the poems. Does that make ANY sense? Anyhow. Thank you, as ever, for being such a beacon of love and poetic goodness.


    1. What an interesting reaction, Irene. I do know what you mean. I kind of feel that way about anyone (whether poet, musician, actor, etc.) whom I admire or idolize, wondering whether I’ll be disappointed, or if my feelings will change when I see the real person. We all have our own fantasies, and as you said, personal feelings we’ve built up around the person that is likely different from the reality. I still envy your having heard Mary Oliver read in person, though. 🙂


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