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What beauty is for …

Every time of year and season has its beauty if we have the ‘eyes’ to see. However, more often than not, that beauty beckons ‘heart to heart’, without us having to do anything at all, other than just be present to it.  This experience  can help  confirm in us a realisation of  ‘what beauty is for’.  The poet Mary Oliver expresses this so well in the poem below.

The Swan

Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river?
Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air –
An armful of white blossoms,
A perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned
into the bondage of its wings; a snowbank, a bank of lilies,
Biting the air with its black beak?

Did you hear it, fluting and whistling
A shrill dark music – like the rain pelting the trees – like a waterfall
Knifing down the black ledges?

And did you see it, finally, just under the clouds –
A white cross streaming across the sky, its feet
Like black leaves, its wings Like the stretching light of the river?
And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?

And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?

by Mary Oliver

See also Resources for World Day of Prayer for Creation  and  Sowing hope for the planet

(This poem by Mary Oliver appeared in ‘Swan’  (her twentieth volume of prose and poetry).   At the time she wrote,   “that, though we may be ‘made out of the dust of stars’ we are also of the world.  She captures this here so vividly.  ‘Swan’ is Mary Oliver’s tribute to “the mortal way” of desiring and living in the world, in which we experience the inter-relatedness and inter-connectedness of all things, awakening the realisation in us as to ‘what beauty is for’).


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