I’m sure I’m not the only one who still can’t believe Mary Oliver died. She was such an amazing person, such a calming force in this world. Her poetry was always simple but evoking the most complicated feelings; delicate but hitting straight in the heart with a power of a bulldozer. She was one of a kind. She was making the world a softer place just by sharing her words with us.
So I was wondering how to celebrate her beautiful legacy on Reads Rainbow, because there was no doubt in my mind we have to talk about a lesbian poet as iconic as her. And I decided that as much as I love her poetry, I want to do something different. I mean, I can let you know what are my favourite collections of hers… But I wanted to translate her tenderness into another medium. Hence the songs.
What works better with poetry than music, right? (I’m from Poland, we have a whole genre literally called ‘sung poetry’. Remind me to talk about that more some day.)
I selected six songs by sapphic artists that sounded to me as softly as Mary’s poems. I hope you’ll enjoy. And when you’re already at it, check out what 2018 LGBT music videos I recommended the other day.
I Know A Place / MUNA
“Just give me trust and watch what’ll happen / ‘Cause I know / I know a place we can run / Where everyone gonna lay down their weapon / Lay down their weapon / Don’t you be afraid of love and affection / Just lay down their weapon”
Night Go Slow / Catey Shaw
“It feels like we are the only two people that left in town / Our phones are dead and the planes overhead / Don’t even make a sound / With no distractions my only reaction to you is the joy I found / And I don’t think I can let this moment go”
Something / Cyn
“You said you’ve never been melted before / Your hearts never really dripped on the floor / You don’t think that I could make you liquid / I could make a love that’s just so: fluid”
Horizon / Luna Blake
“You tower over me / You are sky and I am sea / You tower over me / But we could be the horizon / I’ll let you love me harder than a diamond”
Only The Ones We Love / Tanita Tikaram
“Oh, you can’t get even with this kind of pain / But to see you steady brings the calm, again / (Say) – oh my baby – let them stay the same / For we’re only the ones we love / And they’ve seen something which I’ll never see / But – I dreamed something when you fell for me / (Yeah), I dreamed something which soars above”
Here is a Heart / Jenny Owen Youngs
“No better way that I can see to spend all the time / While you’re asleep / When holding your hands inside of mine”
I’d like to finish this off with a quote from Mary Oliver herself. The poem is titled October and comes from her collection New and Selected Poems: Volume One (1992).
Look, hasn’t my body already felt
like the body of a flower?
Look, I want to love this world
as though it’s the last chance I’m ever going to get
to be alive
and know it.
Sometimes in late summer I won’t touch anything, not
the flowers, not the blackberries
brimming in the thickets; I won’t drink
from the pond; I won’t name the birds or the trees;
I won’t whisper my own name.
the fox came down the hill, glittering and confident,
and didn’t see me—and I thought:
so this is the world.
I’m not in it.
It is beautiful.