“Goldfinches” by Mary Oliver Literary Response

Some goldfinches were having a melodious argument at the edge of a puddle. The birds wanted to bathe, or perhaps just to dip their heads and look at themselves, and they were having trouble with who should be first, and so on. So they discussed it while I stood in the distance, listening.

Perhaps in Tibet, in the old holy places, they also have such fragile bells. Or are these birds really just that, bells come to us—come to this road in American—let us bow our heads and remember now how we used to do it, say a prayer. Meanwhile the birds bathe and splash and have a good time. Then they fly off, their dark wings opening from their bright, yellow bodies; their tiny feet, all washed, clasping the air.

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Musical tones such as Tibetan Bells are often used in some traditions and cultures as an essential part of the gathering of people. They are also a part of temples and sacred places. Because there is a gathering of goldfinches, the author could be relating this to how the Tibetan Bells are used as an essential part of gathering, so she brings this device or association into the poem.

The author can be seeing how the Tibetan Bells in the present form of goldfinches serve as a reminder of how we were once a more holy, reverent type of people. She could be saying that on our own anymore we forget to be holy, reverent people so now God is sending us signs, reminders that we once used to pray.

The birds bring us that sign, they are our “fragile bells” we need as reminders to be a spiritual people, to connect to God more often.Tibetan Bells are also used to invoke a deep state of relaxation which then helps one to enter into a state of meditation. These Tibetan Bells help cause a “centering effect.

In observing the Goldfinches, the author could herself be brought into this state of relaxation which some use the Tibetan Bells for. While in this state of relaxation brought upon by viewing the Goldfinches, she now sees that Tibetan Bells are just one tool to bring one into this oneness with God and perhaps the universe. She is discovering now it can be many things that bring her and us, the readers, into this oneness, including just being still while observing Goldfinches or nature doing its thing. The birds then fly off to the heavens having fulfilled their mission in that she has made this connection.

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“Goldfinches” by Mary Oliver Literary Response. (2017, Mar 24). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/literary-response-to-goldfinches/