Messenger, from “Thirst” (2005), Mary Oliver

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.


River Flows In You: Lindsey Stirling and Debi Johanson

The Sweetness of Dogs, from “Dog Songs” (2013), Mary Oliver

What do you say, Percy? I am thinking
of sitting out on the sand to watch
the moon rise. It’s full tonight.
So we go

and the moon rises, so beautiful it
makes me shudder, makes me think about
time and space, makes me take
measure of myself: one iota
pondering heaven. Thus we sit, myself

thinking how grateful I am for the moon’s
perfect beauty and also, oh! how rich
it is to love the world. Percy, meanwhile,
leans against me and gazes up
into my face. As though I were just as wonderful
as the perfect moon.


Moonlight Sonata arranged and performed by Marcin (from the 1st and 3rd movements)

A Pretty Song, da “Thirst” (2005), Mary Oliver

From the complications of loving you
I think there is no end or return.
No answer, no coming out of it.
Which is the only way to love, isn’t it?

This isn’t a play ground, this is
earth, our heaven, for a while.
Therefore I have given precedence
to all my sudden, sullen, dark moods

that hold you in the center of my world.
And I say to my body: grow thinner still.
And I say to my fingers, type me a pretty song.
And I say to my heart: rave on.


David Garrett, Gábor Takács-Nagy and the Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra perform Beethoven, Violin Concerto Op 61

Attenta, da “Why I Wake Early” (2005), Mary Oliver

Ogni giorno
vedo o ascolto
che più o meno

mi uccide
di gioia,
che mi lascia
come un ago

nel pagliaio
della luce.
Era ciò per cui sono nata —
guardare, ascoltare,

in questo mondo morbido –
per istruirmi

nella gioia
e nell’acclamazione.
Né sto parlando

lo spaventoso, il terribile,
il molto stravagante –
ma dell’ordinario,
del comune, del monotono,

le rappresentazioni quotidiane.
Oh, brava studiosa,
io mi dico,
come puoi fare a meno

di diventare saggia
con insegnamenti
come questi:
la luce non regolabile

del mondo,
la lucentezza dell’oceano,
le preghiere che sono
fatte di erba?


I see or hear
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It was 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?


Ray Chen plays Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64 with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and Maestro Kent Nagano (Live concert on 28th February, 2015)

Morning Poem, from “Dream Work” (1986), Mary Oliver

Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange

sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches—
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it

the thorn
that is heavier than lead—
if it’s all you can do
to keep on trudging—

there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted—

each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.


David Garrett – Violine & Julien Quentin – Klavier
W.A. Mozart, Sonate für Klavier und Violine Nr. 18 G-Dur KV 301 (293a) Teil 1 Allegro con spirito – Düsseldorf 30 Apr 2010

Alcune domande che potresti fare, da “Blue Iris – Poems and Essays” (2004), Mary Oliver

È solida l’anima, come il ferro?
O è tenera e fragile, come
le ali della falena nel becco del gufo?
Chi ce l’ha, e chi no?
Continuo a guardarmi intorno.
Il viso dell’alce è triste
come il volto di Gesù.
Il cigno spalanca le sue bianche ali con lentezza.
D’autunno, l’orso nero smuove le foglie nel buio.
Una domanda porta ad un’altra.
Ha una forma? Come un iceberg?
Come l’occhio di un colibrì?
Ha un polmone, come il serpente e la capasanta?
Perché dovrei averla io, e non il formichiere
che ama i suoi figli?
Perché dovrei averla io, e non il cammello?
Pensandoci bene, e gli aceri?
E gli iris blu?
E le piccole pietre, che siedono sole al chiaro di luna?
E le rose, e i limoni, e le loro foglie lucenti?
E l’erba?

Some Questions You Might Ask

Is the soul solid, like iron?
Or is it tender and breakable, like
the wings of a moth in the beak of the owl?
Who has it, and who doesn’t?
I keep looking around me.
The face of the moose is as sad
as the face of Jesus.
The swan opens her white wings slowly.
In the fall, the black bear carries leaves into the darkness.
One question leads to another.
Does it have a shape? Like an iceberg?
Like the eye of a hummingbird?
Does it have one lung, like the snake and the scallop?
Why should I have it, and not the anteater
who loves her children?
Why should I have it, and not the camel?
Come to think of it, what about the maple trees?
What about the blue iris?
What about all the little stones, sitting alone in the moonlight?
What about roses, and lemons, and their shining leaves?
What about the grass?


Earth Song (Michael Jackson) – The Vienna Symphonic Orchestra

Last Night the Rain Spoke to Me, from “What Do We Know: Poems and Prose Poems” (2003), Mary Oliver

Last night
the rain
spoke to me
slowly, saying,

what joy
to come falling
out of the brisk cloud,
to be happy again

in a new way
on the earth!
That’s what it said
as it dropped,

smelling of iron,
and vanished
like a dream of the ocean
into the branches

and the grass below.
Then it was over.
The sky cleared.
I was standing

under a tree.
The tree was a tree
with happy leaves,
and I was myself,

and there were stars in the sky
that were also themselves
at the moment
at which moment

my right hand
was holding my left hand
which was holding the tree
which was filled with stars

and the soft rain—
imagine! imagine!
the long and wondrous journeys
still to be ours.


Valentina Babor – When the rain begins to fall 2015
Original von Jermaine Jackson und Pia Zadora 1984

The Sun, Mary Oliver

Have you ever seen
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?

Rose, Mary Oliver

Tutti di tanto in tanto si interrogano su
quelle domande che non hanno delle risposte
pronte: la Causa Prima, l’esistenza di Dio,
cosa succede quando il sipario
cala e nulla lo ferma, non baciando,
non andando al centro commerciale, non al Super Bowl.

“Rose selvatiche,” dissi loro una mattina.
“Avete le risposte? E se le aveste,
vorreste dirmele?”

Le rose risero dolcemente “Perdonaci,”
dissero. “Ma come puoi vedere, al momento siamo
completamente occupate ad essere rose”.


Everyone now and again wonders about
those questions that have no ready
answers: first cause, God’s existence,
what happens when the curtain goes
down and nothing stops it, not kissing,
not going to the mall, not the Super

“Wild roses,” I said to them one morning.
“Do you have the answers? And if you do,
would you tell me?”

The roses laughed softly. “Forgive us,”
they said. “But as you can see, we are
just now entirely busy being roses.”

From Felicity – New York, Penguin, 2016

Quando la morte viene, Mary Oliver

Quando la morte viene
come l’orso affamato in autunno;
quando la morte viene e tira fuori dal suo borsellino
tutte le monete scintillanti
per comprarmi, e chiude il borsellino di scatto;
quando la morte viene
come una pestilenza di morbillo;
quando la morte viene
come un iceberg fra le scapole,
io voglio affacciarmi alla porta piena di curiosità, domandandomi:
come sarà mai, quel cottage d’oscurità?

E perciò guardo ogni cosa
come una fratellanza e una sorellanza,
e vedo il tempo come nient’altro che un’idea,
e considero l’eternità un’altra possibilità,
e penso ad ogni vita come a un fiore, comune
come una margherita dei campi, e altrettanto singolare,
e ad ogni nome come a una piacevole musica in bocca,
che tende, perché tutta la musica lo fa, verso il silenzio,
e ad ogni corpo come a un leone di coraggio, e a qualcosa
di prezioso per la terra.
Quando sarà finita, voglio dire: per tutta la vita
sono stata una sposa maritata alla meraviglia.
Sono stata lo sposo, e ho preso il mondo fra le mie braccia.
Quando sarà finita, non voglio chiedermi
se ho fatto della mia vita qualcosa di particolare e di vero.
Non voglio trovarmi a sospirare, e spaventata,
e piena di recriminazioni.
Non voglio finire avendo semplicemente visitato questo mondo.

(Traduzione di Maria G. Di Rienzo)

When Death Comes

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it’s over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.

I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.