In which I am (more or less) killed with delight


by Mary Oliver (from New and Selected Poems, Vol. Two)

Every day
I see or I hear
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It is what I was born for –
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world –
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant –
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these –
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?


I’m declaring this a Poetry and Reading weekend. (Well, in the space between soccer and swimming and church and the other regular stuff.)

What’s the best poem you’ve read lately? Leave a link in the comments, if you can.

  • Diana Trautwein

    Anything and everything on John Blase’s website.

    • HopefulLeigh

      Oh, agreed! I found him through Seth Haines a couple of weeks ago and his words blew me away.

  • Jenn

    Can I confess I pretty much never read poetry? Keep it coming….I feel so cultured!

  • Jessica

    Poetry is something I rarely to never read and never to rarely write and yet feel like I should do both. Perhaps this is the inspiration I need to re-light that fire.

    For what it’s worth – here’s the one and only poem I ever posted on my own site :

  • Melissa Fedd

    Laisha Rosnau…awesome poet from the BC. This collection will blow your top:

  • Michelle Morr Krabill

    I love to write poetry. You can see some lf mine here:

  • Alizabeth Rasmussen

    Samantha Reynolds pretty much kills me with delight every day. This was my favorite one this week:

  • J.R. Goudeau

    I heard Aracelis Girmay read this poem, “For Estefani Lora, Third Grade, Who Made Me This Card,” this summer at a poetry workshop: I love it and I’ve fallen in love with Girmay’s work; she’s a charming person and a brilliant observer.

  • Elizabeth Marshall

    I love Mary Oliver so very much. And Billy Collins and Carl Sandburg. Will send you links to a fave or two.

  • Kristin Lucas

    I love love this one–what we once needed to know by josh rathkamp–2012/what-we-once-needed-know

  • Darren Barkey

    My favourite poem is October Fullness by Pablo Neruda – I just love it, here’s the first verse …

    October Fullness

    Little by little, and also by great leaps
    life happened to me, and how insignificant this business is.
    These veins carried my blood, which I scarcely ever saw,
    I breathed the air of so many places without keeping a sample of any.
    In the end, everyone is aware of this:
    nobody keeps any if what he has, and life is only a borrowing of bones.
    The best thing was learning not to have too much either of sorrow or of joy, to hope for the chance of a last drop, to ask more from honey and twilight.

  • Angela

    I read this poem by Billy Collins last summer and it has stuck with me since.

  • Kim Van Brunt

    Thank you for reminding me, for inspiring me to pull down my poetry books from the shelf, because I realized today that I’ve outgrown some poets I used to adore, and I am hungry for more. And then I sat on my sofa and read and read and read, some out loud, one Donne poem three times (this one:

    I also love this one I read last year:

  • Charity Jill Denmark

    I’m probably quite the cretan when it comes to the finer points of poetry appreciation, but I like the economic use of good words pretty well; I found a good example in a piece by Suzanna Paul that was over at A Deeper Story this past week:
    “Sometimes insurgency burns slow” is my favorite part.

  • Sarah Caldwell

    What a beautiful poem – thank you for sharing! I’ve enjoyed “theology of doubt” by scott cairns.

  • Beth Woolsey

    This poem by George Herbert (1593-1633) about Moses’ brother, Aaron, has been rattling around in my head for weeks. And rattling. And rattling. It’s best the 5th or 6th (or 7th or more) time once the patterns and the repetition and the desolation and the consolation sink deep inside your soul.

    by George Herbert

    Holiness on the head,
    Light and perfections on the breast,
    Harmonious bells below, raising the dead
    To lead them unto life and rest:
    Thus are true Aarons dressed.

    Profaneness in my head,
    Defects and darkness in my breast,
    A noise of passions ringing me for dead
    Unto a place where is no rest:
    Poor priest thus am I dressed.

    Only another head
    I have, another heart and breast.
    Another music, making live not dead,
    Without Whom I could have no rest:
    In Him I am well dressed.

    Christ is my only head,
    My alone and only heart and breast,
    My only music, striking me e’en dead
    That to the old man I may rest
    And be in Him new dressed.

    So holy in my head,
    Perfect and light in my dear breast,
    My doctrine tuned to Christ (Who is not dead,
    But lives in me while I do rest)
    Come, people; Aaron’s dressed.

  • Esther Emery

    I love Mary Oliver. I’m also old school and will never let go of TS Eliot, especially Ash Wednesday:

    And the lost heart stiffens and rejoices
    In the lost lilac and the lost sea voices
    And the weak spirit quickens to rebel
    For the bent golden-rod and the lost sea smell

  • Sandy Jones Fox

    Let Evening Come by Jane Kenyon

    Let the light of late afternoon
    shine through chinks in the barn, moving
    up the bales as the sun moves down.

    Let the cricket take up chafing
    as a woman takes up her needles
    and her yarn. Let evening come.

    Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned
    in long grass. Let the stars appear
    and the moon disclose her silver horn.

    Let the fox go back to its sandy den.
    Let the wind die down. Let the shed
    go black inside. Let evening come.

    To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop
    in the oats, to air in the lung
    let evening come.

    Let it come, as it will, and don’t
    be afraid. God does not leave us
    comfortless, so let evening come.

  • Joanna Dobson

    Anything by the Cambridge poet, academic and priest Malcolm Guite. See for example his four sonnets to Mary:

  • Lindsey Mead

    This, right here, is one of my very favorite poems. Adore. Mary Oliver in general, truthfully. One of my other favorites is Wendell Berry, here:

  • JessicaSchafer

    I love so much of Rainer Maria Rilke’s work, but this one in particular has so many lines that hit deep and save my faith:

    Also love Denise Levertov, Hafiz and Rumi.

  • Heather Kopp

    I love Mary Oliver, too! This one got me recently:

    We Have Some Leverage

    Always assume that you are on the best of terms

    With God, for, dear, I will tell you a truth:

    We have some leverage over Him.

    How do I know this? It was pretty easy to

    Figure out with this fine brain.

    In short: Each of us is like His only heir.

    Spoiled and difficult as we may be, He is

    Very willing to put up with us until we are



  • Sarah Askins

    Should really meet this poet Sarah Askins…she does some pretty good stuff 😉

    All shameless self-promoting aside, I adore H.D.’s poetry. Bare, sparse images slay me every time. There is, of course, the added bonus that her poems are short so they can be read between tinies needed things.

  • HopefulLeigh

    Ooh, love that one, Sarah. This Rilke poem grabbed a hold of me a month ago and hasn’t let go yet:
    “She who reconciles the ill-matched threads
    of her life, and weaves them gratefully
    into a single cloth-
    it’s she who drives the loudmouths from the hall
    and clears it for a different celebration

    where the one guest is you.
    In the softness of evening
    it’s you she receives.

    You are the partner of her loneliness,
    the unspeaking center of her monologues.
    With each disclosure you encompass more
    and she stretches beyong what limits her,
    to hold you.” -from the Book of Hours 1, 17

    • J.R. Goudeau

      Leigh, this is my favorite poem of all time. Ever. And that’s saying a lot.

  • fiona lynne

    I read this Yeats poem last week, and loved it: “When you are old” –

    “But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
    And loved the sorrows of your changing face;” …