This week’s poem of the week comes to us from Mary Oliver, a beautiful poem called Summer Day. This poem continues with our theme of the importance of leisure to our spiritual lives. Leisure allows us to slow down and to see the countless ways in which the hand of God presents itself to us in all aspects of the overflowing bounty that is creation. It’s all there for us, if we only have eyes to see, this poem reminds us. The author sees God in the “complicated eyes” of the grasshopper, in the joy of spending a quiet day on a vast knoll. And finally, the poem turns to us and asks poignantly: “What is it that you plan to do / with your one wild and precious life?”
The Summer Day | a Poem by Mary Oliver
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
from New and Selected Poems, 1992
Beacon Press, Boston, MA