Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver

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Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver

Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver

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For these reasons and more, Devotions has sat on my nightstand since November when it was purchased, and there it will remain. Here, nature is once again the theme: the ‘invitation’ of this poem is to come and see the goldfinches that have gathered in a field of thistles.

In keeping with the title of the collection—one meaning of “devotion” is a private act of worship Known for its clear and poignant observations and evocative use of the natural world, Oliver’s poetry is firmly rooted in place and the Romantic nature tradition.This review is on selected poems from two collections published in 2008: The Truro Bear and Other Adventures and Red Birds. and entwine the outer world with our inner worlds, where our place among “the family of things” is ascertained only through the intersection of the physical and cerebral realms. She and Millay’s sister Norma became friends, and Oliver “more or less lived there for the next six or seven years,” helping organize Millay’s papers. Like Wordsworth, Oliver deftly communicates physical movement in her poems, even though many of them ostensibly celebrate the serenity of standing still .

It’s not an affectation—she and Cook, especially when they were starting out and quite poor, were known to feed themselves this way. Her poetry is suffused with wonder at the simplest things, her sense of the oneness of all things and her desire to be one with them. What makes us human, aside from the ability to feel love and despair, is our imaginative capability, and this human quality can enable us to forge links with the rest of nature and find a place within the ‘family of things’. I’ve been reading Oliver for years and every time I think I’ve exhausted her collections for poems that nearly knock me to the floor I discover another and its like the sky opening up and all of the cosmos raining down into my heart. The child who had trouble with the concept of Resurrection in church finds it more easily in the wild.From A Thousand Mornings (2012) is a meditative ensemble of ten poems whose dominant subject is water, be it the sea or the River Ganges. This collection is a good introduction to her work, a selection of her poetry written between 1963 and 2015 and published in 2017, a couple years before her passing. Apparently it was wild enough, a few decades ago, that people who said they saw a bear were almost believed.

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