Edit this post

The On Being Project

The Poetry of Silence

There’s an old saying:

“Don’t speak unless you can improve upon the silence.”

This Mary Oliver poem fills me with thoughts and feelings about living and aging that are very close to the bone. But I should not speak about them unless I can improve upon the poem — and, of course, I can’t. Sit with it in silence and I’m sure you’ll see what I mean…

“In Praise of Craziness, Of A Certain Kind”
By Mary Oliver

On cold evenings
my grandmother,
with ownership of half her mind —
the other half having flown back to Bohemia —

spread newspapers over the porch floor
so, she said, the garden ants could crawl beneath,
as under a blanket, and keep warm,

and what shall I wish for, for myself,
but, being so struck by the lightning of years,
to be like her with what is left, that loving.

Share Your Reflection