Such Singing in the Wild Branches by Mary Oliver
It was spring
and I finally heard him
among the first leaves––
then I saw him clutching the limb
in an island of shade
with his red-brown feathers
all trim and neat for the new year.
First, I stood still
and thought of nothing.
Then I began to listen.
Then I was filled with gladness––
and that’s when it happened,
when I seemed to float,
to be, myself, a wing or a tree––
and I began to understand
what the bird was saying,
and the sands in the glass
for a pure white moment
while gravity sprinkled upward
like rain, rising,
and in fact
it became difficult to tell just what it was that was singing––
it was the thrush for sure, but it seemed
not a single thrush, but himself, and all his brothers,
and also the trees around them,
as well as the gliding, long-tailed clouds
in the perfectly blue sky––all, all of them
And, of course, yes, so it seemed,
so was I.
Such soft and solemn and perfect music doesn’t last
for more than a few moments.
It’s one of those magical places wise people
like to talk about.
One of the things they say about it, that is true,
is that, once you’ve been there,
you’re there forever.
Listen, everyone has a chance.
Is it spring, is it morning?
Are there trees near you,
and does your own soul need comforting?
Quick, then––open the door and fly on your heavy feet; the song
may already be drifting away.
by Mary Oliver. “Such Singing In The Wild Branches” is from Owls and Other Fantasies.
Other books by Mary Oliver
- 1963 No Voyage, and Other Poems (Dent (New York, NY), expanded edition, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1965.
- 1972 The River Styx, Ohio, and Other Poems Harcourt (New York, NY)
- 1978 The Night Traveler Bits Press
- 1978 Sleeping in the Forest Ohio University (a 12-page chapbook, p. 49–60 in The Ohio Review—Vol. 19, No. 1 [Winter 1978])
- 1979 Twelve Moons Little, Brown (Boston, MA)
- 1983 American Primitive Little, Brown (Boston, MA)
- 1986 Dream Work Atlantic Monthly Press (Boston, MA)
- 1987 Provincetown Appletree Alley, limited edition with woodcuts by Barnard Taylor
- 1990 House of Light Beacon Press (Boston, MA)
- 1992 New and Selected Poems [volume one] Beacon Press (Boston, MA),
- 1994 White Pine: Poems and Prose Poems Harcourt (San Diego, CA)
- 1995 Blue Pastures Harcourt (New York, NY)
- 1997 West Wind: Poems and Prose Poems Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA)
- 1999 Winter Hours: Prose, Prose Poems, and Poems Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA)
- 2000 The Leaf and the Cloud Da Capo (Cambridge, MA), (prose poem)
- 2002 What Do We Know Da Capo (Cambridge, MA)
- 2003 Owls and Other Fantasies: poems and essays Beacon (Boston, MA)
- 2004 Why I Wake Early: New Poems Beacon (Boston, MA)
- 2004 Blue Iris: Poems and Essays Beacon (Boston, MA)
- 2004 Wild geese: selected poems, Bloodaxe,
- 2005 New and Selected Poems, volume two Beacon (Boston, MA)
- 2005 At Blackwater Pond: Mary Oliver Reads Mary Oliver (audio cd)
- 2006 Thirst: Poems (Boston, MA)
- 2007 Our World with photographs by Molly Malone Cook, Beacon (Boston, MA)
- 2008 The Truro Bear and Other Adventures: Poems and Essays, Beacon Press,
- 2008 Red Bird Beacon (Boston, MA)
- 2009 Evidence Beacon (Boston, MA)
- 2010 Swan: Poems and Prose Poems (Boston, MA)
- 2012 A Thousand Mornings Penguin (New York, NY)
- 2013 “Dog Songs” Penguin Press (New York, NY)