Than All the Electricity in New York City
Mary Oliver passed away today. She was 83. I went to hear her speak once in Seattle. The venue was big. The hall was full. The air vibrated with excitement. A hum of voices at a higher pitch, mainly women…of all ages. I’m sure there were men and boys there, too. The lights dimmed. And there she was. A small unassuming woman, walking out to a podium in the center of a big stage. She spoke. She read. She laughed. She seemed humbled we would come and fill this great hall to hear her words…that reach us, challenge us, soothe us.
You may know her best for the phrase “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
Today, on a wall in my home, I see these words…
With Thanks to the Field Sparrow, Whose Voice Is So Delicate and Humble
I do not live happily or comfortably
with the cleverness of our times.
The talk is all about computers,
the news is all about bombs and blood.
This morning, in the fresh field,
I came upon a hidden nest.
It held four warm, speckled eggs.
I touched them.
Then went away softly,
having felt something more wonderful
than all the electricity in New York City.
–Mary Oliver (1935-2019)