Blue Iris: Poems and Essays

Overview

For poet Mary Oliver, nature is full of mystery and miracle. From the excitation of birds in the sky to the flowers and plants that are "the simple garments" of the earth, the natural world is her text of both the earth's changes and its permanence.

In Blue Iris, Mary Oliver collects ten new poems, two dozen of her poems written over the last two decades, and two previously unpublished essays on the beauty and wonder of plants. The poet considers roses, of course, as well as ...

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Overview

For poet Mary Oliver, nature is full of mystery and miracle. From the excitation of birds in the sky to the flowers and plants that are "the simple garments" of the earth, the natural world is her text of both the earth's changes and its permanence.

In Blue Iris, Mary Oliver collects ten new poems, two dozen of her poems written over the last two decades, and two previously unpublished essays on the beauty and wonder of plants. The poet considers roses, of course, as well as poppies and peonies; lilies and morning glories; the thick-bodied black oak and the fragrant white pine; the tall sunflower and the slender bean.

James Dickey has said of her, "Far beneath the surface-flash of linguistic effect, Mary Oliver works her quiet and mysterious spell. It is a true spell, unlike any other poet's, the enchantment of the true maker." In Blue Iris, she has captured with breathtaking clarity the true enchantment and mysterious spell of flowers and plants of all sorts and their magnetic hold on us.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Blue Iris fortuitously offers an extended sequence and new contexts for a writer whose precise eye and instinct for surprising images have made her one of the best practitioners of the lyrical revelation . . . Oliver's often quiet persona almost always rides a storm of discovery . . . Oliver continues to earn applause and admiration for continuing to provide redemptive mediation and supple praises for nature in a time when so much is under threat. —R. T. Smith, Shenandoah

"A thematic bouquet about plants and the creatures that live among them . . . Punctuated by illustrations derived from electronically scanned flower specimens, it is a handsome book filled with excellent work." —Jay Rogoff, Southern Review

"These 32 poems and four essays offer rich meditations on flowers in nature, showing how plant life reflects the life of the human heart . . . A companion to Oliver's recent Owls and Other Fantasies: Poems and Essays, this work presents poetry in free verse, which Oliver has perfected in all of its musicality and rhythm." —Library Journal

Library Journal
These 32 poems and four essays offer rich meditations on flowers in nature, showing how plant life reflects the life of the human heart. Oliver, who won the 1978 Pulitzer Prize for American Primitive, brings echoes of George Herbert to the fresh ground of American flowers, fields, and wilderness. In the poem "Just Lying on the Grass at Blackwater," we hear, "even silence can feel, to the world, like happiness,/ like praise,/ from the pool of shade you have found beneath the everlasting." Few poets can so persuasively transform Herbert's work. A companion volume to Oliver's recent Owls and Other Fantasies: Poems and Essays, this work presents poetry in free verse, which Oliver has perfected in all of its musicality and rhythm. The prose essays, though perhaps too brief, complement the poems by allowing us to see the natural world as it is intertwined with human understanding and human joy. General readers will enjoy this volume, which will also bring challenges to specialists. Highly recommended for both public and academic libraries.-Heidi Arnold, American Theological Lib. Assoc., Chicago Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807068823
  • Publisher: Beacon
  • Publication date: 9/28/2004
  • Pages: 88
  • Sales rank: 696,657
  • Product dimensions: 6.60 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver is one of the most celebrated and best-selling poets in America. Her books include Red Bird; Our World; Thirst; Blue Iris; New and Selected Poems, Volume One; and New and Selected Poems, Volume Two. She has also published five books of prose, including Rules for the Dance and, most recently, Long Life. She lives in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

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Table of Contents

Morning glories 1
The sunflowers 2
Black oaks 5
Goldenrod 6
Some questions you might ask 9
Sea leaves 10
Skunk cabbage 11
Spring 13
The oak tree at the entrance to Blackwater Pond 14
Freshen the flowers, she said 16
The bleeding-heart 17
Grassy pond, which really is a swamp 18
The roses 21
The lilies break open over the dark water 22
Blue iris 25
A blessing 27
Rice 32
Beans 33
Touch-me-nots 34
Peonies 36
Seven white butterflies 38
Morning at Blackwater 40
Roses 41
Lilies 42
Poppies 44
Just lying on the grass at Blackwater 46
from West wind 49
White flowers 50
Upstream 52
How would you live then? 57
Count the roses 58
How the grass and the flowers came to exist, a God-tale 60
October 61
Old goldenrod at field's edge 64
Blackberries 67
White pine 68
Afterword : roses, late summer 72
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