Tuesday, April 29, 2014

the peonies are getting ready to break my heart

Dear Friend,

Lately I've been getting to know the poetry of Mary Oliver. I'm really enjoying what I've found so far.

Today I was very excited to discover she wrote a poem about my favorite flower!

by Mary Oliver

This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready

   to break my heart
     as the sun rises,
        as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers

and they open--

   pools of lace,
      white and pink--
       and all day the black ants climb over them,

boring their deep and mysterious holes

    into the curls,
      craving the sweet sap,
        taking it away

to their dark, underground cities--

   and all day
      under the shifty wind,
       as in a dance to the great wedding,

the flowers bend their bright bodies,
   and tip their fragrance to the air,
     and rise,
       their red stems holding

all that dampness and recklessness

    gladly and lightly,
      and there it is again--
        beauty the brave, the exemplary,

blazing open.
    Do you love this world?
      Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
       Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?

Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,

   and softly,
      and exclaiming of their dearness,
       fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,

with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
    their eagerness
      to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
        nothing, forever?

From New and Selected Poems (Beacon Press) 

And to answer, I would say -- Yes. Yes, I do.

Taking pictures of my flowers before they become "nothing forever" helps ease the loss.  

My peonies will be blooming soon!

Peace & Joy,



  1. to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
    nothing, forever? - aahhhh exquisite

    you know a poem is really good when you just want to stay quiet after reading it.

    i read some of her poems too. one of my favorite line from her is: Sometimes i need only to stand wherever i am to be blessed. :)

    1. Sheena, your method for gauging really good poetry is spot-on! And of course this goes for good prose as well. The other night when I finished reading Augustine by firelight, it was hard to find my own words. ♥

      P.S. Have you written a post about your favorite Mary Oliver line? I'd love to know why that speaks to you.

  2. Lovely poem, Adriana, and lovely pics to go with it. I felt as if I were smelling flowers drenched in dew as I read along. Lovely.

    1. If only we could have scratch & scent blog posts, Tim . . . There is nothing sweeter than the scent of peonies!

  3. Thanks for sharing this poem, Adriana. I haven't read a great deal of Mary Oliver's poetry, but what I have read is wonderful. I agree with Tim, too -- I could swear I got a whiff of a peony as I read and looked at your pictures.

    1. Thank you for sharing the experience with me, Jeannie! Do you have a favorite flower?

    2. Lilac, hands down. It also brings a wonderful fragrance and lasts too short a time!

    3. Oh yes. Lilacs are up near the tippy-top for me too. I have many wonderful memories of lilacs on my parents' farm. I've spent most of my springs around purple lilacs, but I have a particular white lilac memory that has stuck with me: I helped my sister with a nanny job in a grand old home once. There was this amazing scent all over the place. I followed the scent to a dark wood paneled library. There was a nude over the mantle! In the center of the room a small table held a silver vase teeming with white lilacs. To this day, if I smell white lilacs I am back in that room. The lilacs were such a delightful discovery!


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