The Messenger

          by Mary Oliver

My work is loving the world.

Here the sunflowers; there the hummingbird -  

Equal seekers of sweetness.

Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.

Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old?  Is my coat torn?

Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect?  Let me

Keep my mind on what matters,

Which is my work,  

Which is mostly standing still and learning to be  


The phoebe, the delphinium,

The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.

Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,

Which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart

And these body-clothes,

A mouth with which to give shouts of joy

To the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,

Telling them all, over and over, how it is

That we live forever.  

Kathleen Norris adds the following note:  "It does not matter if you don't have sunflowers or hummingbirds in view:  a city landscape of buildings and people will do just fine.  There is plenty to wonder at there….  We live in a time when anxiety and 'road rage' are rampant, while gratitude and wonder seem to be in short supply.  All the more important, then, to take the time to read this poem out loud, and imagine something better for yourself, in this exotic and beautiful world we call home.

David LaMotte


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