Monday, October 17, 2005


by Mary Oliver

All afternoon it rained, then
such power came down from the couds
on a yellow thread,
as authoritative as God is supposed to be.
When it hit the tree, her body
opened forever.

I think that short poems are so underrated. I say this because that's automatically what I thought when I read this poem. I figured that it was short, sweet and simple. But then I got to reading about Oliver and found out that she is a naturalist and writes her poetry based on the inner beauty of nature. So I knew that she didn't just write this poem because she liked the rain. She wrote this poem because there was something in the naturalness of the rain that spoke out to her. I interpreted the poem as being something of the sacred sense. Because lightning is unpredictable and so are the things God throws into one's life, "authoritative" is an appropriate description of the power of what's happenning in the poem. Also, when the lightning "hit[s] the tree, [and] her body opened forever", it reminds me of when one finds God in faith. After seeing God's grace and letting the faith mold and change one's life forever, it is never the same again. Such is the same with lightning, not only is one never the same again, but also (like those who actually become Christian) being hit by lightning is a very rare thing. I believe that in this poem Oliver is trying to pull together the sacred and the natural through means of a lightning storm. In a way I see the poem as Oliver's way of bringing together one's understanding of the happenings of Heaven and Earth. "On Earth as it is in Heaven" - The Lord's Prayer (the gospel according to Matthew).


Blogger Michael Overton said...

I found the poem to show the power of nature as well. The author describes the lightning comming form the clods as an "authorative" figure like God is. Its a great concept to wrap yourself around but as it shows the power of nature I don't think it quite captures the essence of what we think of as a God. God is suppoesd to be all powerfull, not to be compared to something as weak and trivial as lightning. I also liked how you tied in the woman being opend up to one accepting Christ. it doesnt happen much, like lighning, but when it does you will never forget it, just like I wouldnt forget seeing something get struck with lightning.

9:33 PM  

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