The Summer Day


It’s been a long, cold winter in northwest Montana. There have been many mornings where it’s been too bitter cold to take my dog, Annie, for the longer, rambling walks along the river that we enjoy so much the rest of the year. We long for warmer days without slippery ice and frostbitten fingers. She’s dreaming of those days now, lying on her bed in my office while I write my next book. Winter is beautiful here, but we hope the warm weather is coming soon. I look up to my bulletin board for inspiration and read this lovely poem by Mary Oliver.  And then I continue to write my book. That is one of the many things I’m doing with my one wild and precious life. And I love it. I hope her beautiful words give you inspiration, too.

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention,
how to fall down into the grass,
how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed,
how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

—Mary Oliver
from New and Selected Poems, 1992

Beacon Press, Boston, MA
Copyright 1992 by Mary Oliver

Sleeping Annie

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