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I Ask Percy How I Should Live My Life by Mary Oliver


I am all melancholy and mellowed. It’s probably the wine. It’s nice here outside: the breeze is warm, the houses are still all lit.

It’s one in the morning. I think. I’m full of food. And memories, and things left unsaid.

The stars are winking, as if to say, you can be happy, too, even if you’re sad. It’ll be our little secret. Yes, I’ll drink. Another glass for me and the sky. Another for you, dear reader, and for your hurts, and for your happiness. If I could give you a gift, this is it. Also, a kiss.

Happy Christmas.

I Ask Percy How I Should Live My Life (Ten)
Mary Oliver

Love, love, love, says Percy.
And hurry as fast as you can
along the shining beach, or the rubble, or the dust.

Then, go to sleep.
Give up your body heat, your beating heart.
Then, trust.

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This poem appeared in Red Bird by Mary Oliver, published by Beacon Press, 2008. Shared here with profound gratitude.

Read more works by Mary OliverFind books by this poet • Or view my library 

Explore poems in pursuit of: tendernessbeing humanawe • Or browse the index


[expand title=”Dear Reader” tag=”h6″]

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Comments (4)

  • C.

    Merry Christmas to you too, T. Your blog has given me so many gifts since I’ve discovered it.

  • Summer

    How beautiful. Merry Christmas.

  • julikins

    I really like the poems that you post here. Thank you!

  • Summer

    Give up your… beating heart.
    Missing you this Christmas.


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