New and Selected Poems

New and Selected Poems

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by Mary Oliver
     
 

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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

Overview

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

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This collection brings together poetry from eight of Oliver's previously published books and 30 new poems. In all of her work, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning American Primitive , Oliver, ``full of curiosity,'' writes about the natural world, engaging the entwined processes of life and death. ``Amazement'' figures in her persistent attention to things seen: ``If you notice anything / it leads you to notice / more / and more.'' Description then leads to meditation, a leap beyond the material world. Fundamentally religious in impulse, many of the poems move quickly away from concrete description. Metaphors are not quite grounded in the real; rather, they are asserted, declared. Of a bear the one poem's speaker notes, ``all day I think of her-- / her white teeth, her wordlessness, her perfect love.'' Even though this bear flicks the grass with her tongue, sharpens her claws against the ``silence/of the trees,'' the reader cannot quite see her. It's as if Oliver reports on mysteries rather than embodying them. And so, despite its undeniable music, her work too often becomes rhetorical; too often its earnestness turns preachy and its feeling becomes sentimental. (Oct.)
Library Journal
This collection is drawn from seven previous books and includes 30 new poems (written in 1991 and 1992). Since her Pulitzer Prize-winning American Primitive ( LJ 2/15/83), Oliver has continued to examine the natural world and its mysteries. There is a delightful, almost naive voice speaking in ``A Certain Sharpness in the Morning Air,'' where encountering a skunk with ``the white stripe like a river/ running down its spine'' becomes an occasion for celebrating the shaggy ``wild life of the fields.'' Oliver's ability to fashion an image is evident in ``Water Snake,'' where the shy reptile looks at the poet with ``gravel eyes'' and probes the air with ``the feather of his tongue.'' Other creatures inspire poems, as do lilies, ponds, skunk cabbage, and moccasin flowers. But these are more than odes to nature. Oliver writes with a sure touch and a simple elegance of other concerns: the acceptance of fate, the shortness of life, the inevitability of loss and suffering. Her poems express the human need to be at home in the world until we rise and fall ``into something better.''-- Francis Poole, Univ. of Delaware Lib., Newark
Donna Seaman
Oliver's unassuming, pastoral poems have won numerous awards, including the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. This lyrical retrospective brings together selections from her eight previously published volumes and is crowned by 30 new poems that continue and extend her tribute to the perfection of nature. Oliver's poems are beautifully simple and direct, reflecting the elegant, unquestionable rightness of earth and sky, plants and animals. For her, every breeze, breath, color, creature, flower, motion, succumbing and devouring, is a wonder and a gift. Fear is a revelation, death a cleansing, peace a coveted, achievable state of mind, of heart. As Oliver writes of rain, peonies, owls, rice, the sun, waterfalls, a skunk, an alligator, or a deer, she chides us for forgetting the steady joy of life, for seeking riches other than those given us by our senses. In writing about the dazzle of goldenrod, she asks, "And what has consciousness come to anyway, so far, / that is better than these light-filled bodies?" At least hers has brought us these gentle songs and smiling prayers.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807068182
Publisher:
Beacon Press
Publication date:
09/01/1992
Pages:
255
Product dimensions:
6.25(w) x 9.32(h) x 0.94(d)

Meet the Author

Mary Oliver has written more than ten volumes of poetry and prose and is one of America's best-selling and most honored poets, a winner of both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. A longtime resident of Provincetown, Massachusetts, she is now on the faculty of Bennington College in Vermont.

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