Monday, March 14, 2016

Mary Oliver*

Mary Oliver is, according to the New York Times, by far the best-selling US poet. Her first book, No Voyage and Other Poems, appeared in 1963, and she has since published more than twenty collections. Through the years her voice has developed as one who is very attentive and appreciative of the natural world, and thankful to God for every little beautiful detail.

Mary Oliver's American Primitive (1983) won the Pulitzer Prize, and her New and Selected Poems (1992) won the National Book Award. Her most recent poetry collection is Felicity.

The following poem is from her 2006 collection, Thirst. I thought it would be a fine place to begin our Easter anticipations, as we move toward Palm Sunday.

The Poet Thinks about the Donkey

On the outskirts of Jerusalem
The donkey waited.
Not especially brave, or filled with understanding,
He stood and waited.

How horses, turned out into the meadow,
Leap with delight!
How doves, released from their cages,
Clatter away, splashed with sunlight!

But the donkey, tied to a tree as usual, waited.
Then he let himself be led away.
Then he let the stranger mount.

Never had he seen such crowds!
And I wonder if he at all imagined what was to happen.
Still, he was what he had always been: small, dark, obedient.

I hope, finally, he felt brave.
I hope, finally, he loved the man who rode so lightly upon him,
As he lifted one dusty hoof and stepped, as he had to, forward.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Mary Oliver: first post, third post.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.