New and Selected Poems

New and Selected Poems

Book - 1992
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Winner of the 1992 National Book Award for Poetry A New York Times Notable Book of the Year 1993 "One of the astonishing aspects of [Oliver's] work is the consistency of tone over this long period. What changes is an increased focus on nature and an increased precision with language that has made her one of our very best poets. . . . These poems sustain us rather than divert us. Although few poets have fewer human beings in their poems than Mary Oliver, it is ironic that few poets also go so far to help us forward." -Stephen Dobyns, The New York Times Book Review
Publisher: Boston : Beacon Press, c1992.
ISBN: 9780807068182
Branch Call Number: 811.54/OLIV
Characteristics: xii, 255 p. ; 24 cm.


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Apr 28, 2021

So, this compilation takes the unusual route in being chronologically backwards. Which means, in this case, by the far the strongest and (literally) most mature writing is the at the beginning. Most of the book is full of truly excellent poetry but the last quarter tapers in originality and quality so I was left feeling less excited about her as a poet.

Still very recommended if you enjoy contemporary poetry. She's a big deal for a reason. Maybe just read that last quarter first, so you can see her blossom rather than wither.

Apr 20, 2018

My cousin, Tonya, gifted me this book 20 years ago when I was a teen, lost in my own notebooks and thoughts. Tonya marked many of her favorite poems throughout the pages, and that was the beginning of my love for Mary Oliver. Mary taught me that there is beauty in a broken heart and there is still beauty to be found even in the darkest days. We always have poetry, a balm for the soul. I will love her forever, and I will never be able to thank my cousin enough for a book that made such an impression on my life.
Wild Geese
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.


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