Good Question: ‘The Sun’, a Poem by Mary Oliver

The Sun

Have you ever seen
anything in your life
more wonderful
than the way the sun,
every evening,
relaxed and easy,
floats toward the horizon
and into the clouds or the hills,
or the rumpled sea,
and is gone–
and how it slides again
out of the blackness,
every morning,
on the other side of the world,
like a red flower
streaming upward on its heavenly oils,
say, on a morning in early summer,
at its perfect imperial distance–
and have you ever felt for anything
such wild love–
do you think there is anywhere, in any language,
a word billowing enough
for the pleasure
that fills you,
as the sun reaches out,
as it warms you
as you stand there,
or have you too
turned from this world–
or have you too

gone crazy
for power,
for things?

About Mary Oliver

Known for its clear and poignant observations and evocative use of the natural world, the poetry of Mary Oliver (1935-2019) is firmly rooted in the Romantic nature tradition. She was an “indefatigable guide to the natural world,” wrote Maxine Kumin in the Women’s Review of Books, particularly to its lesser-known aspects – the quiet occurrences of nature: industrious hummingbirds, egrets, motionless ponds. Oliver’s poetry has to do with walks she has taken in the woods, but there is always something else underneath—the idea that it is important to look at the world we live in to get an idea of who we are as humans in the whole realm of things. Oliver’s poetry won numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award and a Lannan Literary Award for lifetime achievement. Reviewing Dream Work (1986) for the Nation, critic Alicia Ostriker regards Oliver to be among America’s finest poets, as “visionary as [Ralph Waldo] Emerson.”

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