Mindful Poetry | December Notes

Mary Oliver, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Poet

 “I wouldn’t persuade you from whatever you believe / or whatever you don’t. That’s your business. / But I thought, of the wren’s singing, what could this be / if it isn’t a prayer? / So I just listened, my pen in the air.”

Mary Oliver, from I Happened to Be Standing

Mindfulness Focus – Sensory Experience

During this time of transition and celebration, may you find solace and joy in the wonders of the season and God’s eternal changelessness. 

Our poet of focus this month is Mary Oliver, whose poetic eye is moved by the ephemeral and the fleeting.  Her “Instructions for Living a Life” sums it up so wonderfully:

Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.


Click on the image below for
Krista Tippet’s On Being Interview.

Link to Krista Tippett's On Being Interview

White-Eyes by Mary Oliver

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver


Continuing Contemplation

  • Place yourself in the setting of the poem.  What can you see, hear, taste, touch and smell?  What sensation stands out for you in the poem?
  • What is the pace of the poem?  Does it move quickly or slowly? Boldly or timidly?  
  • What is the voice of the poem?  For example, is it relaxed, passionate? Humorous or sober?  
  • What do you notice or appreciate about the poem?
  • What connections do you have to the poem?  What chord does the poem strike in you?  Memories or experiences that you’ve had? 
  • How do you feel as you read the poem?  What is the mood of the poem – the “emotional weather” of the poem?
  • What dazzles you in the poem?  What line or image “lights up” for you?
  • How has the poem continued its effect on you since our mindful reading?

Mary Oliver reading Wild Geese


Local Sources for Poetry:

Visit our Mindful Poetry Reading page to learn more about this program.

Mindful Poetry | December Notes