Saturday, October 8, 2011

Swimming Underwater

Mary Oliver summer 1964
When it's over, it's over, and we don't know
any of us, what happens then.
So I try not to miss anything.
I think, in my whole life, I have never missed
the full moon
Or the slipper of its coming back.
Or, a kiss,
Well, yes, especially a kiss.
- Mary Oliver, Swan

Mary Oliver (born September 10, 1935) is an American poet who has won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. The New York Times described her as "far and away, this country's [America's] best-selling poet". Oliver’s first collection of poems, Voyage, and Other Poems, was published in 1963, when she was 28. Oliver's work turns towards nature for its inspiration and describes the sense of wonder it instills in her. “When it’s over", she says, "I want to say: all my life / I was a bride married to amazement. / I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.”

Mary in 2007

If you are interested, wiki her and read the rest.

Swimming Underwater

When I was younger
I would sink to the bottom
and lie still within
the current beside
the grotto that calls me still
all these years later.

I would move slowly
not swimming so much, pulling
myself and gliding
slowly through the cool
water, the quiet blue depths,
holding my warm breath
as long as I could.

December 24, 2009   9:46 AM


  1. thanks for this wonderful gift of poetry, mary's and yours. the elemental feeling is lovely.

  2. It is quite an understanding (Mary's thought you shared) and your poem employs the same type of "quite" the way the words ring in a voice.

  3. Lovely stuff.
    (Though I've gotta say, young Mary looks so much like a young Patti Smith, it almost makes me wonder if some pictures got mixed up somewhere...).

  4. Harlequin, I love it when the universe weaves. I didn't plan this but here it is anyway, better than planned.

    Who, I think you meant "quiet" not "quite". Thank you for your thought.

    Yoga, looking closer, I think the same. When I selected it I compared mouths and thought it must be Mary. It was in another blog and it was labeled there as Mary. This one now in my post is incontrovertible though. I replaced the one that might be Patti Smith (as I agree with you) with another photo that was tagged as taken by her lover and life partner. Thanks for the heads up. I do wish to have accuracy.

  5. One of my favorite poems by Ms. O. I like your associated piece as well; the "quite blue depths" against the "warm breath" especially pops out.


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