Poetry Friday: Peonies by Mary Oliver

Poetry Friday is hosted by Mary Lee at A Year of Reading

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Our peonies are in full bloom this week, just in time for the rain storms that will also bow their heads deep into the grass and fling their petals far and wide.  At the first sign of a downpour, if I am home, I race out to rescue what I can.  They are the loveliest flower…why must they have the shortest season in which to bloom?

‘Peonies’   by Mary Oliver

This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
to break my heart
as the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers

and they open —
pools of lace,
white and pink —
and all day the black ants climb over them,

boring their deep and mysterious holes
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,
taking it away

to their dark, underground cities —
and all day
under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,

the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air,
and rise,
their red stems holding

all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly,
and there it is again —
beauty the brave, the exemplary,

blazing open.
Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?

Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and softly,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,

with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing, forever?


16 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Peonies by Mary Oliver

  1. Peonies and Mary Oliver…..their lush, spectacular beauty fills my heart with joy and a renewed committment to work harder at being in the moment. Thank you, Mary Lee.

    • Right!!! Too early to comment. Thanks Tara (and Mary Lee!) Remember: nothing gold can stay……..but your teaching and your children’s memories will. (Both of you!)

  2. Well, you’ve seen my sharing on FB, and why are they blooms that are so fleeting? I guess it makes us love them even more. Thanks for the love from Mary Oliver!

  3. Oh my, what a poem, and what gorgeous peonies! I envy people who have flowers growing in their yard. We can’t have ANY because of the deer . . . 😦

  4. Wow–another Mary Oliver poem to fall in love with. That ending….just wow! My peonies are still “green fists” but I anticipate their coming wonder. Thanks for sharing this beauty of a poem!

  5. Obviously I need to become a better gardener. That’s two references to peonies today, and I don’t know them! This poem floods the senses, and though I’m not familiar with the flowers – I am! Through the poem.

  6. Pingback: Currently (as of last night) | Nix the comfort zone

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