What do we know?


In remembrance of the great American poet, Mary Oliver, who passed away Wednesday, January 17, 2019, at the age of 83, I’m sharing her poem, “Snowy Night,” one of my favorites. For those of you who will be covered by snow this evening, consider taking a moment to read and savor as snowflakes tumble down, blanketing your world. And, for those of you in warmer climates, I invite you to close your eyes, imagine, and relax into Oliver’s snowy night images. Accessible to all, her poetry invites us as human beings to explore, notice, and ground ourselves in the simple, raw, unfiltered beauty of nature and this moment.

With Peace,

Snowy Night

Last night, an owl
in the blue dark
an indeterminate number

of carefully shaped sounds into
the world, in which, 
a quarter of a mile away, I happened
to be standing.

I couldn’t tell
which one it was –
the barred or the great-horned
ship of the air –

it was that distant. But, anyway,
aren’t there moments
that are better than knowing something, 
and sweeter? Snow was falling, 

so much like stars
filling the dark trees
that one could easily imagine
its reason for being was

nothing more than prettiness. I suppose
if this were someone else’s story
they would have insisted on knowing
whatever is knowable – would have hurried

over the fields
to name it – the owl, I mean.
But it’s mine, this poem of the night,
and I just stood there, listening and holding out

my hands to the soft glitter
falling through the air. I love this world, 
but not for its answers.
And I wish good luck to the owl, 

whatever its name –
and I wish great welcome to the snow, 
whatever its severe and comfortless
and beautiful meaning. 

Mary Oliver

Ashley Nelson