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"One or Two Things", by Mary Oliver

This poem makes me think of two important concepts: Vairagya, which can be translated as relinquishing or dispassion, and impermanence. A great reminder, thank you Mary Oliver!


Don't bother me.

I've just

been born


The butterfly's loping flight

carries it through the country of the leaves

delicately, and well enough to get it

where it wants to go, wherever that is, stopping

here and there to fuzzle the damp throats

of flowers and the black mud; up

and down it swings, frenzied and aimless; and sometimes

for long delicious moments it is perfectly

lazy, riding motionless in the breeze on the soft stalk

of some ordinary flower


The god of dirt

came up to me many times and said

so many wise and delectable things, I lay

on the grass listening

to his dog voice,

crow voice,

frog voice, now,

he said, and now,

and never once mentioned forever,


which has nevertheless always been,

like a sharp iron hoof,

at the center of my mind.


One or two things are all you need

to travel over the blue pond, over the deep

roughage of the trees and through the stiff

flowers of lightning - some deep

memory of pleasure, some cutting

knowledge of pain.


But to lift the hoof!

For that you need

an idea.


For years and years I struggled

just to love my life. And then

the butterfly

rose, weightless, in the wind.

"Don't love your life

too much," it said,

and vanished

into the world.

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