Tunes for a Monday Morning
Sacred Ground

Watching the deer

The Watcher in the Wood

The Book of Fairy Poetry illustrated by Warwick Goble
This Morning I Watched the Deer

by Mary Oliver

This morning I watched the deer
   with beautiful lips touching the tips
of the cranberries, setting their hooves down
   in the dampness carelessly, isn't it after all
the carpet of their house, their home, whose roof
   is the sky?

Why, then, was I suddenly miserable?

Well, this is nothing much.
This is the heaviness of the body watching the swallows
   gliding just under that roof.

This is the wish that the deer would not lift their heads
   and leap away, leaving me there alone.
This is the wish to touch their faces, their brown wrists -
   to sing some sparking poem into
the folds of their ears.

then walk with them,
over the hills
and over the hills

and into the impossible trees.

The White Hind by Arthur Hughes

This is the wish

Deer in DevonWords: The poem above is from Why I Wake Early by Mary Oliver (Beacon Press, 2004); all rights reserved by the author. Pictures: An illustration from The Book of Fairy Poetry by Warwick Goble (1920), "The White Hind" by Arthur Hughes (1870), and deer in Devon.


Ah, it is the season of the deer here as well. We have some property north of town and there is a very special deer that lives there. She is lame in one leg and has broken the leg multiple times. And yet, she continues to not only survive but to have fawns every spring. Her little ones stay with her and the buck she had two years ago now boasts some impressive antlers. I like knowing that this herd at least is safe from another hunting season as long as the stay within the borders of the land we care for. And Matilda, our resident doe with the damaged leg, lives to dance and gamble about for another day.

such grace

Your duet with Barth Anderson "Brother and Sister," which I first read at The Journal of Mythic Arts, is one of my all-time favorite poems.

Hi Terri,

Love, love that poem by Mary Oliver and those exquisite paintings/pictures of the deer in field and myth. As always, Tilly is adorable and alert, inviting the viewer into her world and her ways of canine magic. Like Ms. Oliver, when watching the deer, I am always left mesmerized. They appear as otherworldly creatures knowing something we don't, possessing a divine mystique that leaves us wanting to know more, feel more, and then follow them into the neverland of the forest. The legends of deer woman or deer maiden are among some of my personal favorites. Yesterday, for some reason I wrote a poem about deer, Winter, the olden land, doe woman and the wind. I actually heard the wind echoing down my chimney, intense yet poignant. The field of Joshua trees stretching beyond my yard , for the moment, seemed more like western fields in the Rocky Mts. And something, an indigenous breath, an ancestral hum.... became the wind. The air was damp with rain scent and cold, there was even a hint of the desert evergreen in the mix. I felt this poignant essence fill our house. I could almost inhale it and wrote the following lines. Like the deer, the meaning of this verse is still illusive and leads somewhere beyond my own understanding.


Wind chants through the chimney;
a poignant ghost followed here
by a gate that opens to the field,
a field that leads into the woods
and woods that house white deer and juniper.

Their buckskin and berries moccasined
the steps of a girl who mapped her story
seasons before us. She preferred a tent pole
to our stack of stones. She stitched her shadow
to this ground, her voice to the gale
with a thread of rain and needle of pine.

Her scent permeates the lodge, her winter blue
lament -- my louvered bones.

As always, your blog illuminates my morning with the best of art, literature, and knowledge.

Thank you!

Staying within Borders

It is not in her nature
to stay within the borders,
those green sanctuaries,
that cathedral of leaves
where hunters are kept
from drinking the wine.

It is not in her nature
to stand still,
the white flag
of her tail signaling
all day long, follow, follow,
and we try.

It is not in her nature
to be afraid more than twice
in any one glorious day,
though certainly there exists
more than two dangers
around her.

It is in her nature
to leap, shadowing the sun;
to run on little
heart-shaped hooves,
leaving messages
in the muddy ground
for lovers to find.

To die that we may all live
in the green woods
though she does not know it,
and we do not deserve her joy,
her meat, her liver,
her heart.

©2015 Jane Yolen all rights reserved

"Her scent permeates the lodge, her winter blue
lament -- my louvered bones."

Am trying to learn from you--and failing. Those lines are glorious.


Hi Jane

Thank you so much for this commenting on my poem! I am glad to hear the ending works and very touched by your words1 And it I that learn from you! Your poetry ,its insight, details and revealed truths, always amazes me!

Many thanks!

Hi Jane

I really am enthralled with this poem -- the way you capture the wild grace and instinct of the deer is reverent, enlightening and beautifully illustrative. I can ,because of your words and imagery, slip inside the form/character of this doe and experience the run, the woods, her fear, her need to defy borders. From that "cathedral of leaves" where "the hunters are kept from drinking wine" to these
marvelous ending lines --

To die that we may all live
in the green woods
though she does not know it,
and we do not deserve her joy,
her meat, her liver,
her heart.

I am captivated! Thank you for sharing this one! It enchants!

Take care,

Thanks for sharing the poem, Terri! Here's a deer story (of sorts) for you:


Beautiful poem, Jane. The simple fact is that we all kill to live - the only exceptions are green plants, and even they get calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, nitrogen and other nutrients from decaying things around them. Perhaps better to honour life, especially in the taking of it.


Hi Terri-
I thought you'd like to know that lately when I write poems inspired by Myth and Moor, the images all come to me in the style of your sweet drawings. This poem, in particular, features the faces of children I love in many of your pieces. And of course, Oliver's impossible trees.

The Impossible Trees

Oh, meet me beneath
the impossible trees!
We’ll make company with
field mice and rabbits
curling lazily in our skirts
content beneath our watch.
The deer will wander in,
nestling near us.
They won’t mind
if we nuzzle their warm necks,
touch their soft ears.
This is their right, to be loved.

You and I will grin
having believed for too long,
this moment as these trees.
We will not speak, not speak at all.
Turtle will be late, but he will come
nodding his approval.
Finch and sparrow will swing by
and still themselves among the leaves.
Together, then, we’ll rest.
The only sound, breath,
The best story, our hands holding.

Such a true piece, Jane. I love this moment in particular: "It is not in her nature/
to be afraid more than twice/ in any one glorious day." Something very magical and soothing about that idea for me.

Wendy, another beautiful story and spirit. The lines that most moved me were:
"Their buckskin and berries moccasined
the steps of a girl who mapped her story
seasons before us. "

This detail transported me to the reality of the girl. Such a lovely turn.

Hi Edith

So glad you enjoyed the poem and deeply appreciate your kind words and thoughts. They are very much cherished!

Take care

Hi Jane

This poem is brilliantly written and captures the grace and vulnerability of the deer. The way you voice the ways of her wild nature what is there and what is not, is very beautiful and moving. This poem is one that shall haunt me, one that deeply touches me!!

Thank you for this!
I loved it!


Wow there's some good stuff here today! Couldn't find anything better to read and dream about anywhere else in the world than right here in this entertaining blog with all of you wonderful talented folks! Thanks so much for sharing.

Hi Edith

You bring those impossible trees to life with this enchanting poem! I love how you characterize the animals and endear them to us with that storybook tone. These lines, in particular struck me

The deer will wander in,
nestling near us.
They won’t mind
if we nuzzle their warm necks,
touch their soft ears.
This is their right, to be loved.

because I am both mystified and enamoured of deer. And that ending , too, is fabulous!

Thank you for sharing this!
Take care


And Thank you so much Edith for your kind and beautiful words regarding my poem, "Trail". I am so glad you enjoyed and am touched by your thoughtfulness!

My Best

like the beginning, "Wind chants through the chimney; a poignant ghost follows here,..."
I can see, smell, feel and hear all this with a whoosh and the timid (also) ghost. And then this wonderful girl who many of us wanted to be, or at least is did; living in the wilderness, managing it all, with animal and bird friends.

So sad. The one who didn't get away. We had a lot of hunters come to Central Oregon
and the usual places we saw deer were empty just before the hunters came. They were
mostly tuned into it.

A whole novel in this. So delicate and sublime. I'll copy it soon, well, I copy all of the poems pretty much. They have such a fate, which is here. Now. All of this.

Not a poem this time, but a recent true story. My son Dimitri fell down several times and could not walk again last January. He was in and out of hospitals and care places, but had to move to a town called
Hayward, an hours drive to and fro for my other son Ted and I to visit Dimitri.

When I first went to Hayward it was like going back to Bend, Oregon of my childhood, for he lives in a
place called Hilltop care and it is a real hilltop, just a bit outside of the town. I first saw a meadow and and a brown horse ( who has now left for somewhere) and the sweet smell of country all around us. There is an outside gray, white and brown kitten who escorts us to the door, and then wanders around or waits for mystical cat things.

The last time we went, we left and on a ridge about as tall as me, in shrubs and small trees, I saw a small deer. I have always felt that seeing a deer, especially one that doesn't vanish quickly, is like seeing a unicorn. So Ted and looked and like magic, three more deer arrived, like Waldos, and I
had that ecstatic all's well sometimes in this world and this is a good place for my son Dimitri to live.

Finally when we saw most of the herd, fourteen or more, we went away. But they come back in memory as a blessing.

How lovely to have a local deer herd that you've come to know so well. I'm envious!

*blush* Thank you, Carina.

I love how each of us has chosen different favorite lines. Mine are:

She preferred a tent pole
to our stack of stones. She stitched her shadow
to this ground, her voice to the gale
with a thread of rain and needle of pine.

Yep, those are the lines that caught me right in the heart too.

This is glorious, Jane.

"I wanted to pay homage to the female side of myself."

A very fine thing to do.

Wow, I can truly see the painting for this one. Hmmm.....

A blessing indeed.

what a sublime last linrine "The best story, our hands holding,"which can be read in several interesting ways.


Hi Terri

Thanks so much for taking the time to read my poem; and I am glad you enjoyed those lines. Your thoughtfulness is deeply appreciated!

Take care,

Hi Phyllis

What a wonderful story and indeed a blessing. Deer have always been as symbol/totem of something sacred to me, harbingers of beauty, peace and something spiritual.

Thanks so much for sharing this,
It is very touching!

Take care

Hi Terri

I agree with about this beautiful story Phyllis has shared. It is very touching and indeed, the deer are wonderful blessing.

Also, thank you so much for reading my poem "Trail" and commenting on it so thoughtfully. I really appreciate it!

And Phyllis, thank you, so much too for you beautiful comment on my poem. I was moved by your viewpoint and kind words!

My Best to you both

Wendy, your comments are starting to get caught in Typepad's over-active spam filter. The best thing to do if you write a comment and it doesn't appear is to wait for me to find it in the filter and check the box that lets the filter know it's not spam, after which it will appear. If one keeps trying to post the comment over and over, the filter then decides you really are a spammer and goes nuts.

Once I've released several of your comments from the filter, the filter starts to get the idea that you're not spam and everything calms down.

I wish there was an easier way! But Typepad doesn't have any means of allowing me to simply say: "Let all comments from this address through," which would make life SO much easier.

Thank you so much!

Hi Terri

Thanks for this advice and explanation. I kept wondering why my comments on some posts kept failing to register. Now I understand why and will gladly heed your advice.

Again, thank you

How I loved this post: the illustrations, the Mary Oliver poem, the following comments, poems and stories. Thank you for this.

I live in a place graced by deer presences. Last year was my 'year of the deer', when I did meet a wild doe and whisper in her ear; and when I realised that I had been given Deer as my totem animal. I have carried that blessing with me ever since.

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