Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Poems Strung Like Beads


The sky.


The outfit.


Backyard grapes on the vine.

Beads and Arrows

My beaded trimmings.


Beadlike trimmings. Sweet and round and purple among thrifty kitchen bits.

tiny circles

I have Sally to thank for the wonderful earrings and belt among other wonderful treasures delivered to my door and Laura Jane for the white dress with perfect netted cutout details :)


I have my husband to thank for turning backyard beads of sweet goodness into jars of the brightest purple grape jelly. His first attempt at canning of any sort was a smashing ;) success. Can't wait to try my hand at it too. Any good fig jam recipes out there?


AND, I have this amazing woman to thank for making my Friday night a truly beautiful experience. Her poetry is perhaps magic in it's simplest form. Wise, elegant, adorable (she wore all black with crazy multicolored socks peeking out from below her pant hem and above her shoe), endearingly scattered between poems and gently centered within them, and so funny she was. Within the hour and a half in which she spoke, a big roomful of hearts were captured, mine included.

One of many poems she read:

Mornings at Blackwater

by Mary Oliver

For years, every morning, I drank
from Blackwater Pond.
It was flavored with oak leaves and also, no doubt,
the feet of ducks.

And always it assuaged me
from the dry bowl of the very far past.

What I want to say is
that the past is the past,
and the present is what your life is,
and you are capable
of choosing what that will be,
darling citizen.

So come to the pond,
or the river of your imagination,
or the harbor of your longing,

and put your lips to the world.
And live
your life.

Mary Oliver looks out at her beloved Blackwater Pond, 2006. [source]

During the question and answer session after her reading, she told of walking out into the woods near her home at Blackwater to write. She would hide pencils in the trees should she find herself with an idea and in need of one to write it down. Apparently, at one of her readings a guy once showed up with a pencil that he'd found in a tree. She said they broke it in half and now he has one half and she the other.

When I Am Among the Trees

by Mary Oliver

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness,
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, "Stay awhile."
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, "It's simple," they say,
"and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine."

More Prairie Dresses

This one's for Milla. I have her to thank for introducing me to Ms. Oliver's poetry in the first place :)


By Mary Oliver

In the afternoon I watched
the she-bear; she was looking
for the secret bin of sweetness -
honey, that the bees store
in the trees’ soft caves.
Black block of gloom, she climbed down
tree after tree and shuffled on
through the woods. And then
she found it! The honey-house deep
as heartwood, and dipped into it
among the swarming bees - honey and comb
she lipped and tongued and scooped out
in her black nails, until

maybe she grew full, or sleepy, or maybe
a little drunk, and sticky
down the rugs of her arms,
and began to hum and sway.
I saw her let go of the branches,
I saw her lift her honeyed muzzle
into the leaves, and her thick arms,
as though she would fly -
an enormous bee
all sweetness and wings -
down into the meadows, the perfections
of honeysuckle and roses and clover -
to float and sleep in the sheer nets
swaying from flower to flower
day after shining day.


Teeny said...

It's been such a long time since I read any poetry. And these were peaceful and so restful to thank you! You have no idea how long I've been trying to find a cutwork dress! Yours is lovely. Hey, how do you find wearing white when you have a jammy handed toddler around? hehehe.

Celynne said...

Oh, that dress looks absolutely amazing on you. You look so lovely. And what sweet poems, right up my alley. Thanks for sharing, and lucky you hearing her poems in person.

jenny miller said...

Thank Milla for me too! I had not heard of her poetry. I think I'm going to start with American Primitive. I have a great book of canning recipes called Putting Up With Honey that has a great-sounding recipe for Honey-Fig Jam. I can email it to you if you like. And I love the dress! I don't know how well that would work for me though, living on the farm as we do. Thanks for sharing. Blessings.

Franca said...

I'm not a poetry person, but these are beautiful! as is your lovely dress!

Nichole said...

Wow. Those poems, that sky and that dress take my breath away. Thank you for sharing.

That jam looks right out of a cookbook.! I also use a few freshly picked grapes in my sourdough bread starter. The white stuff is yeast that kickstarts the dough.

Thank you again for sharing. I enjoy your blog very, very much.

Anonymous said...

i just got teary eyed and cried out to jeff, "jeff! mary oliver was in town! i didn't know and we missed her!" and jeff replied, "i DID know. i didn't tell you because i tried to get us tickets and it was sold out.". that is a tiny bit of solace, as is your beautiful apparition. thank you for sharing oliver here...whenever i read her, no matter how heavy my heart with the world, i am always uplifted because she KNOWS, she GETS IT. and i thus feel much less alone. i'm so glad you love her too, and that you got to see her. xoxo

bonfire of my vanity said...

THAT DRESS!!!!!!!!!

Andrea said...

dresses + poems! You know this post is right up my alley :)

moonshinejunkyard said...

awwww so glad you got to see mary oliver and hear her voice in person; what a beautiful experience that must have been. i have been moved by her poetry since a tender age, when i got a job in at Rivendell books (long defunct) and met an old poet soul booklover named Joel Porter who introduced me to many of my still-favorite poets. He would send me home with slim first edition volumes like little pomegranate jewels just for the pure joy of watching a 17 year old girl fall in giddy love with poetry. all those things that happen when you are 17 last forever i think.

anyway the selections you chose here, and the grapes and jam and dress and milla and forest all collage together the most soothing experience for my soul tonight and for that i thank you deeply. i was just on facebook and everything i was looking at was disturbing, negative, angsty, argumentative, sad. then i come here, read your words, see what i love, and remember most of all to go into the forest, to walk the soft paths, to let the wild animal of my body love what it loves (i know i'm not quoting her correctly but with the right spirit). ahhhh peace. poetry, beauty, friendship, and joy. sweet missa i thank you.

anne said...

beautiful. the poems, dress, grapes, sunset...

Laura jane said...

Missa, the dress is beautiful on you and I love how you accessorized it! I should have ripped it out of my closet and given it to you ages ago (I never wore it). Thank you for sharing the poetry, I am going to the library drink in more of her lovely words:)

Elisheva said...

What a gift, Thank you for sharing all this, I can feel the inspiration come right off my screen. I first heard of Mary Oliver when I visited the states a few years ago, she was nestled right in my heart in minutes. I love her poems and find her such a medicine at times. I imagine one day when I am older, I will cut my hair and be simply dressed, settle into the older part of life full of her words and all the heart that goes with them.

I wonder does she ever cross the ocean for such talks, I am sure she must, thats got me thinking that I need to check.

Thank you and your white dress is beautiful and eloquent and simple like these poems. xx

sally said...

i, too, love mary oliver's poetry. it's like a salve that protects from the roughness of the world. so happy you got to see her. and you look so gorgeous in the dress and with your belt and earrings! so very happy you are making good use of them. <3

Alexa said...

What wonderful words, thanks for sharing! Now I have more books to add to my ever-growing list. And the jam looks just luscious. This recipe for fig jam looks easy:

Milla said...

Oh! You lovely and lucky you. I'm so happy you got to see her, and so sad Mary did not, but love the story of Jeff being so thoughtful about it. That, to me is at the heart of Ms. Oliver's poems, thoughtfulness, pause at wonder of this world. The miracle of its existence. I feel very thankful for being part of this lovely post.

Nicky said...

Looking for posts on your hens and found this amazing outfit!!! :D SO CUTE!!!! On to look for your hens