"Demon or bird! (said the boy's soul,) Is it indeed toward your mate you sing? or is it really to me? For I, that was a child, my tongue's use sleeping, now I have heard you, Now in a moment I know what I am for, I awake.
Never more the cries of unsatisfied love be absent from me, Never again leave me to be the peaceful child I was before what there in the night, By the sea under the yellow and sagging moon, The messenger there arous'd, the fire, the sweet hell within, The unknown want, the destiny of me."
Lord, guard me against proclivities of lust for things that I can not have; teach me to see the woman as my sister, daughter and friend. Check my ambitions and show me humility in both love and war.
Nurture my most high hopes; to be a husband and a craftsman. In the hours of darkness, be that light that shines on me and my dreams. Grant me rest, least I lose my strength, and dreams become nightmares. Mold me to my true nature, that of a patient man, waiting until the waiting is done.
Make me a vessel that holds and spreads joy. Grant me the opportunity for hard work that breaks into sweat. Allow peace to be my guiding ray, and let me remember that I never could have made it, without fear of the common path of death.
Allow me to become stronger, wiser, better all the days of my life. Forgive me my offenses against the and thy other children. Wipe their tears and comfort their souls for this is my prayer.
This slender guide by Mary Oliver deserves a place on the shelves of any budding poet. In clear, accessible prose, Oliver (winner of both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for poetry) arms the reader with an understanding of the technical aspects of poetry writing. Her lessons on sound, line (length, meter, breaks), poetic forms (and lack thereof), tone, imagery, and revision are illustrated by a handful of wonderful poems (too bad Oliver was so modest as to not include her own). What could have been a dry account is infused throughout with Oliver's passion for her subject, which she describes as "a kind of possible love affair between something like the heart (that courageous but also shy factory of emotion) and the learned skills of the conscious mind." One comes away from this volume feeling both empowered and daunted. Writing poetry is good, hard work.