Mary Oliver, the Buddha and a Poem called “Spring” with Music

Few poets speak to my heart as Mary Oliver does. Here’s another one of her remarkable poems that has moved my heart.  It’s called “Spring,” and it’s from her collection of poems and prose poems called West Wind—highly recommended!

At the end of the poem I’ve also posted some music I think you enjoy. It called “By the River,” and it’s performed by the immensely talented contemporary bassist and composer Edgar Meyer. The album is called Uncommon Ritual, and it’s one of my most treasured CDs. For me, “By the River” catches something of spirit feel of the poem, as well as kind of timeless rhythm and flow that underlie our spiritual walk in this world. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Now, here’s Mary Oliver’s poem:


This morning
two birds
fell down the side of the maple tree

like a tuft of fire
a wheel of fire
a love knot

out of control as they plunged through the air
pressed against each other
and I thought

how I meant to live a quiet life
how I meant to live a life of mildness and meditation
tapping the careful words against each other

and I thought—
as though I were suddenly spinning like a bar of silver
as though I had shaken my arms and lo! they were wings—

of the Buddha
when he rose from the green garden
when he rose in his powerful ivory body

when it turned to the long dusty road without end
when he covered his hairs with ribbons and the petals of flowers
when he opened his hands to the world

Edgar Meyer’s “By the River” from Uncommon Ritual, with with Béla Fleck and Mike Marshall.

By the River

iTunes Store link:

Related links:

Do You Hear the Call of the Wild Geese?

Spiritual Practice and Learning to Surrender


About Steven Goodheart

"I have made a ceaseless effort not to ridicule, not to bewail, not to scorn human actions, but to understand them." Spinoza

6 Responses to “Mary Oliver, the Buddha and a Poem called “Spring” with Music”

  1. Shatteringly beautiful. I did not know this poem and am so glad to have discovered it. Thank you so much. (I came across it listening to Chopin, searching for poetry which flows like his music, as I recall some Mary Oliver’s poetry does. I promise to come back and listen to Edgar Meyer’s music.)

  2. How well the music and poem merge into a peaceful image …thanks for these gifts.

  3. Steve,

    Soothing, very soothing.

    michael j

    • Yes! From my heart to yours, and all who listen. Somehow this music has always been music of “the path” for me….has a quiet humility, a gentleness, and yet, a kind of resolute on-goingness that you know will find its way home.

      Glad you enjoyed it.

      With warm metta,

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