Put your lips to the world

What I want to say is
that the past is the past,
and the present is what your life is,
and you are capable
of choosing what that will be,
darling citizen.

So come to the pond,
or the river of your imagination,
or the harbor of your longing,

and put your lips to the world.
And live
your life.

~ Mary Oliver, from “Mornings at Blackwater” in Red Bird: Poems

Notes: Photo “Lips” by sadpunkandpastaforbreakfast. Poem: Thank you Karl @ Mindfulbalance


  1. Oh Mary Oliver – perfect message clothed in perfect words. It’s gonna be a good day.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. no tiptoeing around, step in –

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Ohhhh, WMS, WMS! Such a visceral message. “…put your lips to the world.” Think it’s too long for a tattoo? 🤭

    Liked by 3 people

  4. To my coffee mug first. I’ll see about the world later.

    Loved “So come to the pond,
    or the river of your imagination,
    or the harbor of your longing,”

    She doesn’t say go. She says come. Because she’s there. Always there.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I heard Mary Oliver read this poem on the radio while in the car last weekend. It was in a piece from the New Yorker on why critics discount Mary Oliver’s work. There’s so much sexism in the discrediting – because her work is accessible, because she is female, because she doesn’t give a damn. Mary Oliver’s poems are one of my favorite things about this world.

    Liked by 6 people

    • Thank you Elizabeth. I hadn’t seen the article and since I don’t run with the acclaimed Poets and their critics, I didn’t know that she was discredited. Wow. This paragraph had me shaking me had – who is this David Orr guy?

      “Still, perhaps because she writes about old-fashioned subjects—nature, beauty, and, worst of all, God—she has not been taken seriously by most poetry critics. None of her books has received a full-length review in the Times. In the Times’ capsule review of “Why I Wake Early” (2004), the nicest adjective the writer, Stephen Burt, could come up with for her work was “earnest.” In a Times essay disparaging an issue of the magazine O devoted to poetry, in which Oliver was interviewed by Maria Shriver, the critic David Orr wrote of her poetry that “one can only say that no animals appear to have been harmed in the making of it.” (The joke falls flat, considering how much of Oliver’s work revolves around the violence of the natural world.) Orr also laughed at the idea of using poetry to overcome personal challenges—“if it worked as self-help, you’d see more poets driving BMWs”

      Liked by 2 people

  6. What a beautiful poem.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Love this! Love Mary Oliver!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh, so good.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I am totally with Mary Oliver. The past is in the past and should be left there. Only now counts. And, as anyone who has been faced with their humanity and the preciousness of it, today is all that counts. Do jump in.
    “Put your lips to the world
    And live
    Your life.”
    Abso-effing-lutely…. (I kept it PG-13…)

    Liked by 1 person

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