I want to listen to the enormous waterfalls of the sun

Today I read “Dogfish” by Mary Oliver in the light of my own ongoing preoccupation with meaninglessness, fear & creative excess.

Here is a short excerpt from the original poem:


I wanted

the past to go away, I wanted

to leave it, like another country; I wanted

my life to close, and open

like a hinge, like a wing, like the part of the song

where it falls

down over the rocks: an explosion, a discovery;

I wanted

to hurry into the work of my life; I wanted to know,

whoever I was, I was



for a little while.


You don’t want to hear the story

of my life, and anyway

I don’t want to tell it, I want to listen


to the enormous waterfalls of the sun.


There are so many things I love about this poem: I love how it is so very personal without being private (and I believe this is why every reader can see that this is a story about themselves). I love how the narrator let her own interior life mix in with the natural scenery; doubling the production of meaning in both. I love the strength in the narrator’s voice (I want my life to open) – even if its pretty obvious she has had some troubles lately (I wanted my life to close). And most of all I like the linguistic simplicity (thriftiness?), Oliver’s ability of not using a single word too many.

IMG_0919Josef Hoflehner: Private Property  (2005)

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Harold Rhenisch says:

    Thanks for making the strong new version of Oliver’s poem! And thanks for the amazing image. It is indeed good in this hot season to see some snow and all those odd human mind-sculptures.

    1. Sigrun says:

      Hi Harold,
      thanks for visiting!
      The fencing looks totally absurd, doesn’t it?!
      and the trees …

      oh well, thats us I guess – people trying to organize, separate, occupy –

  2. I have always loved that line about the enormous waterfalls of the sun.

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