You Are Most Cordially Invited


by Mary Oliver


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.

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