Sleeping in the Forest by Mary Oliver

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Sleeping in the Forest


Mary Oliver

I thought the earth remembered me,

She took me back so tenderly

Arranging her skirts

Her pockets full of lichens and seeds.

I slept as never before

A stone on the riverbed,

Nothing between me and the white fire of the stars,

But my thoughts.

And they floated light as moths

Among the branches of the perfect trees.

All night I heard the small kingdoms

Breathing around me.

The insects and the birds

Who do their work in darkness.

All night I rose and fell,

As if water, grappling with luminous doom.

By morning I had vanished at least a dozen times

Into something better.

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  12 comments for “Sleeping in the Forest by Mary Oliver

  1. Cami
    March 5, 2011 at 1:19 pm


  2. Chantelle
    March 5, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    Beautiful. I’ve never read her before. Thank you for sharing with us.

  3. Melissa
    March 5, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    So pleased you enjoyed this poem ladies. Isn’t her imagery fabulous?

    • January 15, 2020 at 11:33 am

      You said it sister.

  4. March 6, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    that was so beautiful. like a romanticists dream of camping.

  5. Melissa
    March 6, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    it makes me feel like I am actually part of the earth. fantasy meets gardening 🙂

  6. Kimber Dunn
    March 6, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    WOW – Love it!!! Thanks for sharing this, like the others I haven’t read her work yet. Heard her name before, but never “noticed” her before now.

  7. Melissa
    March 6, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    I love her too. Thanks for commenting!

  8. sabry
    October 15, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    wow it is very intersting lyric poetry . mary oliver is my best poet

  9. PhabRick8R
    February 1, 2018 at 1:13 pm

    I <3 this poem. Thanks for sharing! This really helped me with my latest English project!

    • Melissa
      February 5, 2018 at 3:38 pm

      My pleasure. Happy to help 🙂

  10. Susan
    June 14, 2020 at 8:10 am

    This was one of the first of Mary Oliver’s poems that I read. It has remained my favorite. As someone who has spent many a night camping surrounded by the sounds, the scents and the aliveness of a night in the woods, this beautiful poem speaks so purely to my heart.

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