What in the world is better than Nature poetry, for cryin’ outloud?
Mary Oliver is a nature poet. A nature poet is the best way to go: who doesn’t adore and implicitly love nature? You want animals? You got ’em. You want imagery and scenery? Done. You want the bitter, hard, but carefree, unsentimental life? It’s yours. You want quasi-religious platitudes? Here they are.
THE SUMMER DAY
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?
Oliver is timeless. This poem could have been written thousands of years ago. It makes me want to cry, thinking about it. We still live in the land of nature poets. We really don’t need TV. If you don’t like modern life, the nature poet will save you.
If nature poets make you bored and dull and restless with their perfections, there’s always Charles Simic, who writes poems from inside the diseased city:
This strange thing must have creptRight out of hell.It resembles a bird’s footWorn around the cannibal’s neck.As you hold it in your hand,As you stab with it into a piece of meat,It is possible to imagine the rest of the bird:Its head which like your fistIs large, bald, beakless, and blind.