The closing line of this poem is one you might have seen before. For example, I have it on my personal email signature. Seeing life as wild and precious is a gift poet Mary Oliver gives us with each of her creations. I love her work, how it emphasizes the natural world and the cycles of life. I find myself including it often into ceremonies I write – either as alternatives for complete readings by a participant – or just bringing in certain lines as motifs.
Have you heard her read “The Summer Day” before? If not, give yourself this gift and give a listen:
Here is the complete poem, too:
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?
~ Mary Oliver