Gift—Prompts Inspired by Mary Oliver’s “The Uses of Sorrow”

I was saddened to hear of Mary Oliver’s passing. While she was sometimes dismissed in academic circles, her poetry touched so many—perhaps it was her accessibility led that to her dismissal as “serious poetry” by some. Regardless, I believe she has much to teach and to admire.

For this first prompt, please notice how much Oliver is able to say in such a short poem. Limit yourself to five lines to say what legacy you will leave others. This could be a list or one single image. 

For a second prompt, what is the poem of a dream? Write from a single dream or a compilation of dreams? How does time function in this poem, similar or opposed to the dream(s)? is there a color that tinges the entire dream/poem. Describe the color but do not name it. What feeling did the dream leave  you with upon waking? Yearning, anguish, hope, solace? What feeling do you what the poem to convey? 

For a third prompt, answer whether you kept the “box of darkness” Oliver writes of. If not, where did you leave it? Did it you pass it on? If so, to whom? If you kept it, where is box now?  What has this gift provided you? 


Below is a photo of Mary Oliver provided with an article in Slate

  Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images.