the swan : mary oliver

I heard my favorite poet, Mary Oliver, give a reading this weekend. It was so deeply moving and inspiring. Among many treasured poems, she read this one, The Swan.

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?

© Mary Oliver. From The Paris Review # 124, Fall, 1992. Online Source

(Poem via Illinois.edu; Image via The Kitchen Dispatch)