by Mary Oliver


Every day

    I see or I hear


            that more or less


kills me

    with delight,

        that leaves me

            like a needle


in the haystack

    of light.

        It is what I was born for—

            to look, to listen,


to lose myself

    inside this soft world—

        to instruct myself

            over and over


in joy,

    and acclamation.

        Nor am I talking

            about the exceptional,


the fearful, the dreadful,

    the very extravagant—

        but of the ordinary,

            the common, the very drab,


the daily presentations.

    Oh, good scholar,

        I say to myself,

            how can you help


but grow wise

    with such teachings

        as these—

            the untrimmable light


of the world,

    the ocean’s shine,

        the prayers that are made

            out of grass?



From Why I Wake Early, Boston: Beacon Press, 2004, pages 58–59.