Bacon on the Bookshelf

Savory picks for the free range reader

Sunday Morning Special with Mary Oliver


Dear Bacon Friends – I can’t run the interview planned for this morning due to a minor technical problem, but I’m happy to share a couple of beautiful poems from Mary Oliver’s collection A Thousand Mornings. These poems ask (me) the right questions… maybe you too…


by Mary Oliver

Have I lived enough?

Have I loved enough?

Have I considered Right Action enough, have I

come to any conclusion?

Have I experienced happiness with sufficient gratitude?

Have I endured loneliness with grace?


I say this, or perhaps I’m just thinking it.

Actually, I probably think too much.


Then I step out into the garden,

where the gardener, who is said to be a simple man,

is tending his children, the roses.


*      *      *

What do I tend? What do you?

*      *      *




*      *      *


by Mary Oliver

Don’t you dare climb that tree

or even try, they said, or you will be

sent away to the hospital of the

very foolish, if not the other one.

And I suppose, considering my age,

it was fair advice.


But the tree is a sister to me, she

lives alone in a green cottage

high in the air and I know what

would happen, she’d clap her green hands,

she’d shake her green hair, she’d

welcome me. Truly


I try to be good but sometimes

a person just has to break out and

act like the wild and springy thing

one used to be. It’s impossible not

to remember wild and want it back. So


if someday you can’t find me you might

look into that tree or – of course

it’s possible – under it.


*      *      *

Would I be sitting under the tree, content? Or – having fallen – would I lie broken?

Or would you find me dead and buried under it?

Perhaps I did not return to the tree at all and instead you might find me somewhere else…

If someday I can’t find you, where might I look?

*      *      *



  1. I love the poems of Mary Oliver. Thank you for sharing these today!

  2. Thank you for starting my day with these poems, a happy smile of recognition and sigh for days gone by.

  3. Thank you, Jennifer. I’m a Mary Oliver fan but had not run across these. I’ll have to look for that collection. She wasn’t a “mindfulness teacher” but so many of her poems point us toward being mindful, living in the question rather than the certainty of an answer.

    • This is a really beautiful collection, Mary! It’s a very slim volume and one I wasn’t familiar with until just this week. Oh heavens I can’t remember where I saw it mentioned but I was intrigued and ordered it right away. It’s too wonderful not to share. Xoxo

  4. Both poems are stirring—but the second especially speaks to me!! There was a tree in my grandmother’s yard…..and As a girl I was often in trouble for some wild idea acted on to the fullest, until I had to take refuge in my tree! Those wild urges persisted….and still come to mind….I wish I could still climb!

    • What a happy memory, Sarah! And a funny one. And maybe you weren’t so happy at the time when you had to hide in the tree. But how wonderful that you had a tree in your grandmother’s yard to hide in. Xoxo

  5. I feel better. Thank you, BOTB and Nary Oliver.

  6. Great post! Thank you.

  7. What nice Sunday morning words!

  8. Even I can understand (most of the time) Mary Oliver’s poetry, and I got these. And I love the shot of Daisy (?) understudying Pepper.

  9. These poems and photos were exactly what I needed today. Thank you Jennifer!

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