Swim away along the soft trails

I like many kinds of poetry, but any poem that looks out with love upon the natural world has my instant rapt attention. The American branch of this poetic tree is for me a livelier one than the British, especially when poetry and place stand in particular and abiding relation. So I like Walt Whitman, Robert Frost, Wendell Berry. I like the poets that can't keep away long - poetically or bodily - from their particular patch of the natural world. One I've only recently discovered is Mary Oliver, dweller in Provincetown, Massachussetts, wanderer of woods, Whitman in hand, and writer of lovely nature poems. This one, simply titled “Morning Poem,” has the spell of the sacred, and the feeling of fresh air, that always grace the best nature poems.

Every morning
the world
is created. 
Under the orange 

sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again 

and fasten themselves to the high branches ---
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands 
of summer lilies. 
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails 

for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere. 
And if your spirit
carries within it 
the thorn
that is heavier than lead ---

if it's all you can do
to keep on trudging --- 
there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted -
each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
every morning, 
whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy, 
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.