by Mary Oliver
Flare Man and the Natural World Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Section.Line)
there was no barn.
No child in the barn.
No uncle no table no kitchen.
Only a long lovely field full of bobolinks. (11.1-5)
These are definitely some strange and powerful lines. One of the things they do is replace the human scene from Section 2 with a natural image: a field full of birds. Does the speaker mean to suggest that the natural world is in some way the only reality? Is she suggesting that barns and people will eventually vanish, and the natural world will take their place, as if we never existed?
When loneliness comes stalking, go into the fields, consider
the orderliness of the world. (12.1-2)
This antidote to loneliness is, we think, one of the speaker's most direct statements of her philosophy: that looking, learning, and thinking about the natural world is just about the most important thing we can do. By engaging with the world, we put our own troubles in perspective. And she definitely wants us to study the natural world. She says "go into the fields," not go onto the street corner or into the dining room.
Stare hard at the hummingbird, in the summer rain,
shaking the water-sparks from its wings. (12.6-7)
Again with the looking at animals. It's a beautiful image, though, isn't it? There's a sort of transformation, where the water coming off the hummingbird's wings looks like sparks. Not only does this image give a sense of how studying the natural world can be thrilling, it also gives us a hint of the transformative power of observing it. Maybe opening our minds to scenes like this can transform our loneliness or loss and help us move firmly on.