Yesterday was the 5th anniversary of Mary Oliver’s death, so I was inspired to share one of her poems for today’s Gathering of Poetry. Although I have many (many) favorite Mary Oliver poems, I decided to share one today that isn’t as well-known or oft-quoted as many of my other favorites. This one comes from Blue Horses, her 2014 poetry collection, and was written after she triumphed over a lung cancer diagnosis in 2012. (I’m sharing Part 3 of a 4-part poem.)

The Fourth Sign of the Zodiac (Part 3)
Mary Oliver

I know, you never intended to be in this world.
But you’re in it all the same.

So why not get started immediately.

I mean, belonging to it.
There is so much to admire, to weep over.

And to write music or poems about.

Bless the feet that take you to and fro.
Bless the eyes and the listening ears.
Bless the tongue, the marvel of taste.
Bless touching.

You could live a hundred years, it’s happened.
Or not.
I am speaking from the fortunate platform
of many years,
none of which, I think, I ever wasted.
Do you need a prod?
Do you need a little darkness to get you going?
Let me be as urgent as a knife, then,
and remind you of Keats,
so single of purpose and thinking, for a while,
he had a lifetime.

I love this poem. I love the way it brings us right to the heart of things . . . a poignant reminder that none of us has unlimited time; none of us will “get out of here” alive. So let’s get on with it.  Let’s start living immediately!

I think it’s a great sentiment for the beginning of a new year; a fresh start.
Don’t wait.

This poem is from Blue Horses: Poems by Mary Oliver, published by Penguin Group in 2014. Information about the poet can be found here.


You can find A Gathering of Poetry every month . . . on the third Thursday.
Share some.
Read some.
Gather up some poetry!

(Bonny is hosting a special link-up for A Gathering of Poetry. Be sure to check it out!)