Poem of the Week: Worm Moon
Something about the coming of spring has always felt to me incredibly well-suited to poetry, as though it serves as an enchantment, calling the earth slowly back to life through incantation. As we continue to celebrate Women's History Month, here is another poem from Mary Oliver, whose ability to blend the natural world with a sense of hope and renewal appropriately beckons the arrival of spring in Worm Moon. The title alludes to the first full moon in March, so-called because earthworms begin to show themselves again once the ground starts to thaw. Oliver makes the sensations of the transition palpable, both visual and sensual, as the winter stars slide away and the breeze blows over fields and bodies. You can feel her buoyancy in the italicized joyful, you can discern her sentiments without pretense in the final line. And that final sentiment is one, right now, that I'm willing to believe.
Worm Moon 1 In March the earth remembers its own name. Everywhere the plates of snow are cracking. The rivers begin to sing. In the sky the winter stars are sliding away; new stars appear as, later, small blades of grain will shine in the dark fields. And the name of every place is joyful. 2 The season of curiosity is everlasting and the hour for adventure never ends, but tonight even the men who walked upon the moon are lying content by open windows where the winds are sweeping over the fields, over water, over the naked earth, into villages, and lonely country houses, and the vast cities 3 because it is spring; because once more the moon and the earth are eloping - a love match that will bring forth fantastic children who will learn to stand, walk, and finally run over the surface of earth; who will believe, for years, that everything is possible. 4 Born of clay, how shall a man be holy; born of water, how shall a man visit the stars; born of the seasons, how shall a man live forever? 5 Soon the child of the red-spotted newt, the eft, will enter his life from the tiny egg. On his delicate legs he will run through the valleys of moss down to the leaf mold by the streams, where lately white snow lay upon the earth like a deep and lustrous blanket of moon-fire, 6 and probably everything is possible.
- Mary Oliver
From Twelve Moons