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


        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 this 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


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