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"Invitation", by Mary Oliver

Updated: Apr 22

Oh do you have time to linger for just a little while out of your busy


and very important day for the goldfinches that have gathered in a field of thistles


for a musical battle, to see who can sing the highest note, or the lowest,


or the most expressive of mirth, or the most tender? Their strong, blunt beaks drink the air


as they strive melodiously not for your sake and not for mine


and not for the sake of winning but for sheer delight and gratitude – believe us, they say, it is a serious thing


. . .


just to be alive on this fresh morning in the broken world. I beg of you,


do not walk by without pausing to attend to this rather ridiculous performance.


It could mean something. It could mean everything. It could be what Rilke meant, when he wrote: You must change your life.

Mary Oliver, “Invitation,” A Thousand Mornings (New York: Penguin Books, 2013).




I was so happy today, to find thistles in the neighborhood to illustrate this poem

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