Mary Oliver on Living in the Present

Some poets have this power. They can help us stop and discover moments of spaciousness free of mundane troubles, free of our mind with its automatic reactions and obsessive self-concerns.

One such poet is Mary Oliver (September 10, 1935–January 17, 2019), winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, who is known for her intimate observations of the natural world.

Her poetry draws our attention to the small things of everyday life and teaches us the art of being alive in this moment, here and now.

This art comes vibrantly alive in the poem “Mornings at Blackwater” included in the collection Red Bird. Read here by the poet in her heartwarming and comforting voice. Please enjoy!

Mary Oliver.

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.

Complement this lovely mini meditation, an integral part of Red Bird collection of poems, with Mary Oliver’s tribute to her disobedient and infinitely charming dog Percy, and then revisit Annie Dillard on living in the present moment and Aldous Huxley on living in the moment.

Woman watching the sunrise with text overlay: Mary Oliver reads her poem about living in the present.

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