This popular quote become a kind of rallying cry, for on its own it leaves the reader zealous: Seize the day, it seems to say. Get up and go! But taking it from its place, at the end of Mary Oliver’s poem “The Summer Day,” alters its meaning. In context, it is decidedly against ambition; the poem describes a day alone in nature. The speaker, described as “idle and blessed,” observes a grasshopper, kneels, strolls, and simply pays attention. “Tell me,” she asks, “what else should I have done? / Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?” Perhaps the key to understanding the poem is in reading the phrase “what is it you plan to do” as ironic. Life, Oliver suggests, is inherently “wild and precious.” Our job is simply to pause, and notice it is so.
Celebrate 'Friendsgiving' With These 12 Quotes
12 Quotes on Life in the Roaring '20s
'A Matter of Infinite Hope': 16 Poignant Lines from 'The Great Gatsby'
16 Quotes That Go to the Heart of Jane Goodall
Shakespeare’s Most Profound and Passionate Lines About Love
Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: 13 Quotes for Early Birds
10 Japanese Idioms and Proverbs to Take to Heart
15 Quotes About Health in All Its Forms
9 Memorable Quotes From TV Sitcoms From Each Decade
13 Powerful Quotes From James Baldwin
10 Quotes From Celebrated Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders