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 the 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. 


Mary Oliver, “Invitation,” A Thousand Mornings (New York: Penguin Books, 2013).