What is It?

Mary Oliver is one of my very favorite poets. I haven’t read as much of her work as I’d like, but what I have read, I love. If you’re a person who cares about contests, you might like to know Oliver’s won a Pulitzer and some other snazzy prizes.  I hope you enjoy today’s poem.

Also, if you’re into the twitter thing and you’re also into poetry, take a look at the Muses and Metaphor contest sponsored by NPR’s program, “Tell Me More.” Basically, you tweet your original poetry (of 140 characters or less) with the hashtag #TMMPoetry. It’s like haiku for the digital age. Check it out.

QOTD: Just respond to Oliver’s poem. Talk about how it makes you feel or think of, talk about what you like or don’t, talk about how much you love salamanders– whatever. Just say something.

What Is It?
Mary Oliver

Who can say,
is it a snowy egret
or a white flower
standing

at the glossy edge
of the lily-
and frog-filled pond?
Hours ago the orange sun

opened the cups of the lilies
and the leopard frogs
began kicking
their long muscles,

breast-stroking
like little green dwarves
under the roof of the rich,
iron-colored water.

Now the soft
eggs of the salamander
in their wrappings of jelly
begin to shiver.

They’re tired of sleep.
They have a new idea.
They want to swim away
into the world.

from Poetry, April 1990 issue, page 2. Available through JSTOR and poetryfoundation.org.

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2 thoughts on “What is It?

  1. I really like the imagery in this poem. This looks (in my head) like someplace that I would like to go for a picnic. I can also see Baby J playing in the mud around the pond and finding the baby salamanders. It’s very cute. 🙂

  2. I like turtles.

    But really, I think my favorite image was of the frogs being dwarves. I could see them that way and it made me imagine a village life in a pond. My least favorite part was the salamander eggs, too slimy. And the thought of them moving… *shiver*

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