by Mary Oliver
Final Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
I was unfamiliar with Mary Oliver when I chanced upon this book. I am so grateful that’s not the case now, for after reading the poetry within this book, I could easily see Mary Oliver earning a place on my list of favorite poets. In fact, I feel a bit ignorant for not knowing of her before this, as she not only has published many poetry collections over the years, but she is also a Pulitzer Prize winner.
These poems are heavily based on nature and our ability to connect with it if we just take a moment to breathe it all in and appreciate it. As she relates the nature that surrounds her to her own sense of self, Oliver beautifully illustrates the elements of nature as if they themselves were living breathing entities desperately trying to interact with us (the ocean waves, trees, wind, etc.)
Typically when I read poetry books, I place post-it strips on the pages of my favorites so I can easily find them when I want to enjoy them. I started doing that with this book but eventually stopped as I did not want to use up all of my post-it strips. While I can’t say that every poem in the book caught my attention, a majority of them did.
These poems are simple and easy to understand, and yet at the same time they are deep and reflective. It’s a perfect book to read while sitting on the back deck and enjoying morning tea. I look forward to reading more of Mary Oliver’s work!
“… but he was unreachable. As music
is present yet you can’t touch it…”
… I ty to be good but sometimes
a person just has to break out and
act like the wild and springy thing
one used to be, It’s impossible not
to remember wild and want it back…
…And now you’ll be telling stories
of my coming back
and they won’t be false, and they won’t be true
but they’ll be real…
…I go out
to the pale dunes, to look over
the empty spaces
of the wilderness.
For something is there,
something is there when nothing is there but itself,
that is not there when anything else is…
I Go Down To The Shore
I go down to the shore in the morning
and depending on the hour the waves
are rolling in or moving out,
and I say, oh, I am miserable,
what should I do? And the sea says
in its lovely voice:
Excuse me, I have work to do.
…I know I can walk through the world, along the shore or under the trees, with my mind filled with things of little importance, in full self-attendance. A condition I can’t really call being alive…
…Oh the house of denial has thick walls
and very small windows
and whoever lives there, little by little,
will turn to stone.
In those years I did everything I could do
and I did it in the dark—
I mean, without understanding
I ran away.
I ran away again…
In Our Woods, Sometimes a Rare Music
I hear the thrush singing
in the glowing woods
he is only passing through.
His voice is deep,
then he lifts it until it seems
to fall from the sky.
I am thrilled.
I am grateful.
Then, by the end of morning,
he’s gone, nothing but silence
out of the tree
where he rested for a night.
And this I find acceptable.
Not enough is a poor life.
But too much is, well, too much.
Imagine Verdi or Mahler
every day, all day.
It would exhaust anyone.