Creativity, What Inspires Me

Prompt and poem: Roses, late summer

Today I’m struggling to find my own words, so I once again turn to the wonderful words of Mary Oliver. I only have her New and Selected Poems, but I think I will need to buy more of her poetry collections!

Roses, Late Summer

What happens
to the leaves after
they turn red and golden and fall
away? What happens

to the singing birds
when they can’t sing
any longer? What happens
to their quick wings?

Do you think there is any
personal heaven
for any of us?
Do you think anyone,

the other side of that darkness,
will call to us, meaning us?
Beyond the trees
the foxes keep teaching their children

to live in the valley.
So they never seem to vanish, they are always there
in the blossom of the light
that stands up every morning

in the dark sky.
And over one more set of hills,
along the sea,
the last roses have opened their factories of sweetness

and are giving it back to the world.
If I had another life
I would want to spend it all on some
unstinting happiness.

I would be a fox, or a tree
full of waving branches.
I wouldn’t mind being a rose
in a field full of roses.

Fear has not yet occurred to them, nor ambition.
Reason they have not yet thought of.
Neither do they ask how long they must be roses, and then what.
Or any other foolish question.

Prompt >>>

You might use the poem above as a prompt in your journal – to be answered with words, or with images as you like.

Oliver suggests that roses, foxes and birds – all of nature – just gets on with living without asking questions. She suggests their sense of purpose is innate and they are not distracted from it with ponderings about the world and how it works.

I love the final stanza. If you were to stop being fearful, or ambitious, what would you be doing?

If you were to stop feeling uncertain, to stop asking ‘foolish questions’, what would be your innate purpose?

‘Fear has not yet occurred to them’ – what are you afraid of?


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