Mary Oliver (1935-2019) is known for her focus on nature throughout her pieces including prose and poetry. Mary Oliver: New and Selected Poems includes a plethora of nature pieces by Oliver, including Spring Azures.
With everything that’s going on right now, people can sometimes forget to take a breath of fresh air and enjoy the view outside their window. Students can get wrapped up in school and work and forget to take time for themselves or time to imagine, which is exactly what Spring Azures covers:
“In spring the blue azures bow down
at the edges of shallow puddles
to drink the black rain water.
Then they rise and float away into the fields.
Sometimes the great bones of my life feel so heavy,
and all the tricks my body knows―
the opposable thumbs, the kneecaps,
and the mind clicking and clicking—
don’t seem enough to carry me through this world
and I think: how I would like
to have wings—
ribbons of flame.
How I would like to open them, and rise
from the black rain water.
And then I think of Blake, in the dirt and sweat of London—a boy
staring through the window, when God came
Of course, he screamed,
and seeing the bobbin of God’s blue body
leaning on the sill,
and the thousand-faceted eyes.
Well, who knows.
Who knows what hung, fluttering, at the window
between him and the darkness.
Anyway, Blake the hosier’s son stood up
and turned away from the sooty sill and the dark city—
turned away forever
from the factories, the personal strivings,
to a life of the imagination.”
In this poem, Oliver explores feelings of being overwhelmed and how to cope with that through the use of imagery. She juxtaposes the blue spring azures with dark rain water, the blue flaming wings with an aching body, and imagination with the dark city. This highlights the beauty of nature and the darkness of humanity. Life and humanity can often be overwhelming and it’s important to take a break to be creative or enjoy the view.
Sometimes, life feels too heavy to handle on our own shoulders and we wish we were someone else or somewhere else. Sometimes, all you need is a change of scenery, like how Blake left a dark city to follow a life of imagination, or someone to talk to. In this time of uncertainty, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to carry your burdens alone and also to remember to take care of yourself, especially now that we’re headed into summer.