Friday, November 20, 2009

Today's poem - A Letter from Home by Mary Oliver

A Letter from Home
by Mary Oliver
from New and Selected Poems Volume One

She sends me news of bluejays, frost,
Of stars and now the harvest moon
That rides above the stricken hills.
Lightly, she speaks of cold, of pain,
And lists what is already lost.
Here where my life seems hard and slow,
I read of glowing melons piled
Beside the door, and baskets filled
With fennel, rosemary and dill,
While all she could not gather in
Or hide in leaves, grow black and falls.
Here where my life seems hard and strange,
I read her wild excitement when
Stars climb, frost comes, and bluejays sing.
The broken year will make no change
Upon her wise and whirling heart; -
She knows how people always plan
To live their lives, and never do.
She will not tell me if she cries.

I touch the crosses by her name;
I fold the pages as I rise,
And tip the envelope, from which
Drift scraps of borage, woodbine, rue.


  1. THe photo of your garden all neat and ready for winter is so pretty. I can see you have been hard at work.

    Mary really knows how to say it. She is one of my favorite poets.

  2. Gorgeous. I love Mary Oliver.

    I'm particularly struck by the final line and the symbolism of those particular plants: Courage, love, and regret. Perfect.

    Thank you for sharing...

  3. Well, the 'garden' in the English sense - that's just the lawn with a few flowers by the rocks. It looks especially neat because we mow the leaves after they all fall. Not so very hard at work. :<) I am really not much of a gardener, Lisa. I so love this poem, and I thank you for leaving a note about it.

    Sprite, I'm just thrilled that you noted what the plants mean. It adds so much to the poem to know. Thanks! Hey did you ever read any of the Enola Holmes young adult books? The meanings of plants figure into them. You could type 'Enola Holmes' into the search bar if you are interested in the titles. I love this series.

  4. "... people always plan to live their lives and never do". How true.
    It's a lovely piece, Nan. Thankyou.

  5. oh, its such a lovely, haunting poem that it nearly floats up from my screen.
    thanks for sharing it


  6. Cornflower and Julie, I'm so very pleased you both like it. Thank you for leaving notes.

  7. Oh love I love Mary Oliver's poems, she says it like no other. She reminds me how lovely it is the receive mail, old fashioned mail in envelopes that we can read and read again. I dash off e-mails to people, must remember to retrieve my pen and paper more often, and to enclose small gifts.
    'She will not tell me if she cries' poignant.

  8. Carole, I love your words. Exactly the way I feel. Did you see what Sprite wrote about the plants? It really adds to the poem, I think.

  9. Such a beautiful poem with a poignant reminder of friendship and the importance of letter-writing, too. Mary Oliver is among my top five favorite poets (along with Robert Frost, Donald Hall, Jane Kenyon, and Emily Dickinson).

    We have read so many of the same things--my friend Edie, at Cupcake Chronicles (our on-line bookgroup: and I were talking about our shared commonality in the literary realm, just the other day.

    Thanks for your illuminating blog!


  10. I just love the header photo. So peaceful looking.

  11. I've never heard of Mary Oliver before
    Thank you for the introduction
    What a lovely poem

  12. Catherine, I'm with you on Frost, but honestly Donald H. and especially Jane K. are just too sad and depressing for me. I'm so pleased about the reading in common we've done. I've just met Edie!

    Jodi, thanks. It really is peaceful.

    Val, I have included a few Mary O. poems. If you want to read them, you may do one of two things. You could scroll down and on the right side under 'letter topics' click on 'today's poem' or you could type her name into the search bar at the top left of the page. I am a relatively new reader of her work, and I so love her poems.

  13. This is great. Thank you for posting it.

  14. Nan, you're welcome. I love her work.


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