Poetry Friday:Of summer, sunflowers and Mary Oliver

Poetry Friday is hosted by Marjorie at Paper Tigers
Walking the dog this morning, I saw a neighbor unload four bucketfuls of sunflowers from the trunk of her van.  I made my way past, stopped as Sophie made herself busy, and then  watched her line them up by the path to her front door.  Long-stemmed and erect, they sat waiting patiently and proudly – a glorious splash of vibrant color in the early morning light.   I love sunflowers…even when they are clearly ready to be gathered up from their vase and tossed away, they still look so brave and willing to face the world.  So, thinking about those morning sunflowers (why four buckets worth I don’t know!) reminds me of this:
and this:

The Sunflowers — Poem by Mary Oliver

Come with me
into the field of sunflowers.
Their faces are burnished disks,
their dry spines

creak like ship masts,
their green leaves,
so heavy and many,
fill all day with the sticky

sugars of the sun.
Come with me
to visit the sunflowers,
they are shy

but want to be friends;
they have wonderful stories
of when they were young –
the important weather,

the wandering crows.
Don’t be afraid
to ask them questions!
Their bright faces,

which follow the sun,
will listen, and all
those rows of seeds –
each one a new life!

hope for a deeper acquaintance;
each of them, though it stands
in a crowd of many,
like a separate universe,

is lonely, the long work
of turning their lives
into a celebration
is not easy. Come

and let us talk with those modest faces,
the simple garments of leaves,
the coarse roots in the earth
so uprightly burning.

and here is Mary Oliver reading the poem:
Happy summer and happy sunflowers everyone!

14 thoughts on “Poetry Friday:Of summer, sunflowers and Mary Oliver

  1. I wish it were morning reading this, will do it again then, too! Sunflowers seem to fit much better in the sunlight, don't you think? Lovely story from your walk, Tara. The poem is grand, of course. I like "their dry spinescreak like ship masts,". They do make noise. Thanks!

  2. Love love Mary's poem. "the long work of turning their lives into a celebration is not easy" = wonderful, unexpected perspective.And four buckets of sunflowers? There's a great story behind that alone. 🙂

  3. Such a joyful poem — I have watched in fascination while in North Dakota as whole fields of sunflowers follow the sun with their cheery heads. It's awe-inspiring. Happy day to you!

  4. BUCKETS of sunflowers!!! I'm so curious…and so jealous! I can just picture them "so uprightly burning."Stories, stories everywhere. And all we need to do is ask…and listen…

  5. Thank you, Tara, for buckets of poetic thoughts this morning. I love your introduction, that sunflowers "look so brave and willing to face the world" – and Mary Oliver's descriptions of them as kind and wise. I need to go water ours! And I'll try to be more like them today.

  6. How lovely. I love sunflowers too and used to love the fields of them when I lived in Italy. Do you know the little book The Water Angel's Love: A Nepalese Tale, which 'explains' how sunflowers came to be? I've just been writing about it for a reading list of Water Stories I'm putting together…

  7. I love hearing authors read their own poems. Thank you so much for sharing that!When I was a little kid (maybe 8 or 9) I really, really hated Van Gogh. I remember walking through exhibitions at the Met and the odd feeling his paintings gave me — a combination of vertigo and a headache. Now, as an adult, I don't get that feeling at all when I look at them.

  8. Isn't the final stanza lovely? Those modest faces? I have never looked at a sunflower the same way since learning that their spiral of seeds follow the fibonacci sequence.

  9. Great poem! Just found your blog and I love it. I will be student teaching English this fall…I would love to see/hear your thoughts at my blog sometime.Chynnahttp://mrshtheteachingblog.blogspot.com

  10. I love Mary Oliver. Beautiful poem.love the lines:"the long workof turning their livesinto a celebrationis not easy. "Makes me think of how we all learn to appreciate our lives.Sunflowers can't help but bring a smile on my face. thanks for this. I needed it.

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