"Lead"

Discover the poignant call to awareness in Mary Oliver's "Lead"—a reflection on nature and our place within it. Explore this literary masterpiece.

"Lead"
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Mary Oliver's poem "Lead" is about loons, a duck-like bird, "speckled / and iridescent." The winter loons "died, one by one, / of nothing we could see." More broadly this poem is about the destructive hand of humanity: "a story / to break your heart."
Oliver zooms into a particular loon with "a plan / to fly home / to some hidden lake." Instead death comes early. In the loon's final cry, "it lifted its head and opened / the elegant beak and cried out / in the long, sweet savoring of its life."
Oliver writes this as an ecological activist, nor does she hide her intention. "I tell you this / to break your heart, / by which I mean only / that it break open and never close again / to the rest of the world."
which, if you have heard it, you know is a sacred thing., and for which, if you have not heard it, you had better hurry to where they still sing.
And, believe me, tell no one just where that is. The next morning this loon, speckled and iridescent and with a plan to fly home to some hidden lake, was dead on the shore.
I tell you this to break your heart, by which I mean only that it break open and never close again to the rest of the world.

Story From

Mary Oliver Collection