Poem for the 4th of July (Mary Oliver)

On July 4, 2010, poet Mary Oliver found a whale bone on the beach and wrote a poem about it. Eight years ago, she forged just the right poem for this summer day as as always giving it a bigger view.

A poem full of ‘looking, and touching, and loving’ seems a fine way to celebrate independence.

Bone July 4, 2010


Understand, I am always trying to figure out

What the soul is,

And where hidden,

And what shape-

And so, last week,

When I found on the beach

The ear bone

Of a pilot whale that may have died

Hundreds of years ago, I thought

Maybe I was close

To discovering something-

For the ear bone


Is the portion that lasts longest

In any of us, man or whale…

And I thought: the soul

Might be like this-

So hard, so necessary-


Yet almost nothing

Beside me

The gray sea

Was opening and shutting its wave-doors..

I looked but couldn’t see anything

Through its dark-knit glare;

Yet don’t we all know, the golden sand

Is there at the bottom,

Though our eyes have never seen it,

Nor can our hands ever catch it.


Lest we would sift it down

Into fractions, and facts-


And what the soul is, also

I believe I will never quite know.

Though I play at the edges of knowing,

Truly I know

Our part is not knowing,

But looking, and touching, and loving,

Which is the way I walked on,


Through the pale-pink morning light.




Wishing you a joyous Fourth!



We’ll be back on Monday…

Top photo: Eva Varga of The Well Traveled Family

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