Saturday, April 3, 2010

Rice by Mary Oliver

At our meeting last Tuesday, Christian talked about a book by Mary Oliver of which I had not been aware, The Poetry Handbook. Ah, I'm so glad to have a library card; I shall put it on order Monday.

He also shared this poem by Mary Oliver. It's been sticking with me since then, especially that sixth line...



Rice
By Mary Oliver

It grew in the black mud.
It grew under the tiger's orange paws.
Its stems thicker than candles, and as straight.
Its leaves like the feathers of egrets, but green.

The grains cresting, wanting to burst.
Oh, blood of the tiger.

I don't want you to just sit at the table.
I don't want you just to eat, and be content.
I want you to walk into the fields
Where the water is shining, and the rice has risen.
I want you to stand there, far from the white tablecloth.
I want you to fill your hands with mud, like a blessing.

11 comments:

Shaista (Lupus in Flight) said...

Amazing poem! More than a poem surely, a clarion call to Life! I wanted the poem to continue on and on into the everness of after.
Thankyou for sharing it. And Easter greetings to you...

Delwyn said...

Hi Dan

that woman is a master poet isn't she...

what power in her voice...what imagery and urgency too

thank you Dan this is new for me too...

PS I liked that it 'stuck' with you...like sticky rice...


happy days

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Hi Dan: I will think of that last line as I work in my garden this Spring!

I have that Oliver book. It is good, but I was disappointed that she does not use her own poetry to teach. On the other hand, she does seem like such an unassuming, modest sort of person - it makes sense that that would be her choice.

steven said...

dan i was in a thai restaurant recently eating coconut milk sticky rice and reflecting on the journey that food took to arrive in me and then how i would use that energy. mary oliver's words echo inside that moment so richly and keenly! steven

The Pollinatrix said...

This is one of my favorite Mary Oliver poems.

Thanks for sharing it, and Happy Easter, whatever that means for you.

Dan Gurney said...

Shaista, thank you, and Happy Easter to you, too.

Dan Gurney said...

Hi Delwyn,

Yes, Mary Oliver is able to leave me breathless in admiration of her work, her vision, her voice. She has a way of combining images that don't obviously go together in ways that are compelling and resonant.

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Bonnie, yes "mud like a blessing"

Wow. We don't tend to see mud as a blessing, unless we're very small children with very open hearts, clear eyes, and muddy hands. But mud is a blessing one upon which we all depend to fill out bellies.

I'm beginning spring break, and one of my priorities this week is to get the veggie garden going, so this poem will be in my mind as well.

Dan Gurney said...

steven, i think that's what Mary Oliver would like us to do: to eat consciously just as you describe.

Dan Gurney said...

Polli, you're welcome. I think it was one of her first poems. Have you been a Mary Oliver fan for a long time? Although I really like her, I haven't read even half of her poems yet. (Which, given how much I like her work is something that will change. Her poems are really worth reading!)

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