Never afraid to shed the pretense of academic poetry, never shy of letting the power of an image lie in unadorned language, Mary Oliver offers us poems of arresting beauty that reflect on the power of love and the great gifts of the natural world. Inspired by the familiar lines from William Wordsworth, “To me the meanest flower that blows can give / Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears,” she uncovers the evidence presented to us daily by nature, in rivers and stones, willows and field corn, the mockingbird’s “embellishments,” or the last hours of darkness.
“A ‘nature’ poet in the league of Wordsworth, whose poetry is said to have inspired this volume…There is still almost audible excitement in her literary voice, but her nature mysticism seems to have reached a stage more of stillness—a quiet that is not so much a quality as a presence that informs most of her images…A subtle collection that sometimes teaches but never preaches. All the usual Oliver themes—the divine in the physical world, the importance of having loved, the power and consolation of words—are present.” — Tim Pfaff, Bay Area Reporter
“Gloriously alive, inquisitive, and welcoming. A prolific and cherished poet, [Oliver] makes readers feel as though they’ve been part of the quest for wisdom and grace she records in her lucid, giving, prayerful poems…Gratitude is the mode here, and sustained attention is the vehicle…Within each lifting lyric, Oliver declares all of life holy.” — Donna Seaman, Booklist
“I think of Oliver as a fierce, uncompromising lyricist, a loyalist of the marshes. Hers is a voice we desperately need.” — Maxine Kumin
“Mary Oliver’s poetry is a place in which to dwell—a field, a river, a shoreline that wraps its arms around wild things, and preserves precious moments that appear as the seasons shift. It is about attention and patience, just as love is about attention and patience and about quietly stepping away from our own four walls. It is about memory, and reflecting upon what can only be experienced when we respectfully wait for birds and other creatures to take their turns watching us. It is about praise, thanksgiving, and astonishment. It is, surprisingly, not about the poet—other than that she is the one who has experienced what she is showing us..
The poet wants to influence us in the way we view the world. In the title poem she says, “all beautiful things, inherently …excite the viewer toward sublime thought.” This is the “Evidence” she is speaking of. She expects us to be awestruck: “if you have not been enchanted by / this adventure—your life—what would do for / you?” she asks.”
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