do not walk by without pausing to attend to this rather ridiculous performance

Oh do you have time
to linger
for just a little while
out of your busy

and very important day
for the goldfinches
that have gathered
in a field of thistles

for a musical battle,
to see who can sing
the highest note,
or the lowest,

or the most expressive of mirth,
or the most tender?
Their strong, blunt beaks
drink the air

as they strive
not for your sake
and not for mine

and not for the sake of winning
but for sheer delight and gratitude –
believe us, they say,
it is a serious thing

just to be alive
on this fresh morning
in the broken world.
I beg of you,

do not walk by
without pausing
to attend to this
rather ridiculous performance.

It could mean something.
It could mean everything.
It could be what Rilke meant, when he wrote:
You must change your life.

—  Mary Oliver, “Invitation” in  A Thousand Mornings (New York: Penguin Books, 2013).

Photo by Joshua J. Cotten of male goldfinch, Backyard, Cordova, TN, USA in October 2021 via unsplash


  1. incredible

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I salute your wisdom Mary! 🙏🏻😊

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you so much…


    Liked by 1 person

  4. A welcome invitation and I am sending a rsvp with a ‘yes’!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Wonderful piece of work by you

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    And more … “You must change your life.” — Mary Oliver, “Invitation” in A Thousand Mornings (New York: Penguin Books, 2013).”


  7. Beautiful pairing, David.
    Mary had such a gift to share simple yet oh so meaningful messages…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I agree with Mary. Take out the damn earbuds.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. God gave us a big sister to walk with, and although she’s gone, she is not. ♥️

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Utterly delightful….

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Christie says:

    One of my sisters called on Sunday, “long distance” (ha, remember when a long distance call was, super exciting, extra important & was very expensive) btw it was special to chat with her 🙂 While talking with her I said I hear the birds in your yard singing…/// When our daughter was a baby her bedroom window looked out at the adjacent, wild land. a stand of deciduous shrub trees trees were about 12 ft away…as I held her on my right hip we’d stand at the open window, watching and listening to the large groups of Sparrows & Goldfinch singing away…It was such delightful experience & amazing how loud the sweet chorus…generations of Sparrows & Goldfinch still come to our yard, delighting us…we have many different species of birds that love our yard…

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Beautiful…

    Liked by 1 person

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