Mary Oliver Such Singing in the Wild Branches

Mary Oliver Such Singing in the wild branches
courtesy of Jeff Windorft – Comfort, Texas

Are there trees near you? And does your soul need comforting? Mary Oliver Such Singing in the Wild Branches seemed like a perfect poem for me to share this Painted Bunting Video with you. I was thinking of this poem. Sometimes when we hear a birdsong, such as these Summer Days seem to invite, it is good to stop and just listen.

Be still. Become aware of the peaceful nature of our planet.

Remember that all is well in our backyard. All is well in us. Just for that moment. Listen with me. 

Such Singing in the Wild Branches is about a thrush, and I love hearing them in the thicket. But I have been thinking of that pair of Buntings who perch near my porch.

Such Singing in the Wild Branches

It was spring
and finally I heard him
among the first leaves—
then I saw him clutching the limb

in an island of shade
with his red-brown feathers
all trim and neat for the new year.
First, I stood still

and thought of nothing.
Then I began to listen.
Then I was filled with gladness—
and that’s when it happened,

when I seemed to float,
to be, myself, a wing or a tree—
and I began to understand
what the bird was saying,

and the sands in the glass
for a pure white moment
while gravity sprinkled upward

like rain, rising,
and in fact
it became difficult to tell just what it was that was singing—
it was the thrush for sure, but it seemed

not a single thrush, but himself, and all his brothers,
and also the trees around them,
as well as the gliding, long-tailed clouds
in the perfectly blue sky— all, all of them

were singing.
And, of course, yes, so it seemed,
so was I.
Such soft and solemn and perfect music doesn’t last

for more than a few moments.
It’s one of those magical places wise people
like to talk about.
One of the things they say about it, that is true,

is that, once you’ve been there,
you’re there forever.
Listen, everyone has a chance.
Is it spring, is it morning?

Are there trees near you,
and does your own soul need comforting?
Quick, then— open the door and fly on your heavy feet; the song
may already be drifting away.

— Mary Oliver, “Such Singing in the Wild Branches”



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