“A Pretty Song”
It often takes me a while to get through a book because I tend to read a half dozen or so of them at a time. So I’ve been savoring my way through Mary Oliver’s collection of poems, Thirst. I keep returning to these compelling lines that may speak far beyond their already intense surface meaning. Clearly, this is a poem that expresses grief over the loss of a long-time partner. But, bearing in mind Oliver’s mission of “loving the world” (Messenger), as I read these lines I keep considering both to what extent they work for the many kinds of loves of which a life is made over time, and the centrality of love to human existence.
“From the complications of loving you
I think there is no end or return.
No answer, no coming out of it.
Which is the only way to love, isn’t it?
This isn’t a playground, this is
earth, our heaven, for a while.”
— from Mary Oliver’s A Pretty Song in Thirst