West Wind: Poems and Prose Poems

West Wind: Poems and Prose Poems

by Mary Oliver
     
 

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The New York Times has called Oliver's poems "thoroughly convincing - as genuine, moving, and implausible as the first caressing breeze of spring." In this stunning collection of forty poems she writes of nature and love, of the way they transform over time. And the way they remain constant. To quote Library Journal: "From the chaos of the world, her poems

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Overview

The New York Times has called Oliver's poems "thoroughly convincing - as genuine, moving, and implausible as the first caressing breeze of spring." In this stunning collection of forty poems she writes of nature and love, of the way they transform over time. And the way they remain constant. To quote Library Journal: "From the chaos of the world, her poems distill what it means to be human and what is worthwhile about life."

Editorial Reviews

Albert Mobilio

A quick survey of the first lines of the first few poems in Mary Oliver's West Wind makes clear that the poet is an animal lover: "Seven white butterflies/delicate in a hurry," "owl/make your little appearance now," "This morning/the dogs/were romping and stomping," "This morning/two birds/fell down the side of the maple tree," "A band of wild turkeys is coming down the hill" or "The meadowlark, with his yellow breast and a sort of limping flight." These shopworn scenes of the peaceable kingdom inaugurate poems unable to veer off the flower-petal strewn path their openings predicate; their mild-mannered rusticity is disturbed just slightly by ominous undertones of "mossy shadows." We learn that the owl looks down and sees how "everything/trembles/then settles/from mere incidence into/the lush of meaning." Now that's one wise owl.

If only I could believe Oliver's "lush of meaning" is a drunken hunter intent on gunning down the owl, but alas, I know different. Prize winner -- the Pulitzer and National Book Award -- that she is, Oliver is among the ranks of much feted versifiers whose precious, so very "poetic" work appears wholly untouched by a century's worth of cartoons, flame throwers, be-bop drummers and a few dozen revolutions of sensibility. Instead, she offers trite coffee-cup insights: "I don't want to sell my life for money,/I don't even want to come in out of the rain." Or how about: "a black ant traveling/briskly modestly/from day to day from one/golden page to another." Ah, the modest ant. He too, it seems, drinks in the "lush of meaning." As you might need a drink yourself after handling, oh so delicately, Oliver's kitschy knickknacks. -- Salon

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Oliver has made a career out of sharing her sense of awe, elation and gratitude before the natural world. In her ninth book of poems (White Pine, etc.), she's still hitting the same notes: "Have I not stood, amazed, as I consider/ the perfection of the morning star." But here, the author of the Pultizer Prize-winning American Primitive seems more interested in her own amazement than in what amazes her. The specificity of the natural world blurs before a wonder that's often more didactic than inspiring as Oliver sternly admonishes us to see the beauty that surrounds us. Rather than capture the rhythms of what she sees, her lines seem to be broken easily, yielding a kind of complacency: "I was walking/ over the dunes when I saw/ the red fox." There are fine moments, such as "Seven White Butterflies" and "Dogs," each of which finds an energetic rhythm to match its subject. But most of these poems lack the acuteness of vision that makes Oliver's best work something very much more than vaguely spiritual sentiment attached to images of wildlife and nature. (June)
Library Journal
Although her papers may scatter as the west wind sweeps through her room, Oliver's house is in order. From the chaos of the world, her poems distill what it means to be human and what is worthwhile about life. Echoing the Romantics and Whitman, she affirms the value of aloneness with nature, of watching and listening -- not just to get it down as art but simply to live it: "And to tell the truth I don't want to let go of the wrists/ of idleness, I don't want to sell my life for money,/ I don't even want to come in out of the rain." While practically every poem in this collection is about death, joy and death are inseparable: "If there is life after the earth-life, will you come with me?" The prose-poem referred to in the titlea 13-part series addressed to a loversums up a humble life lived to the fullest in a cricket's imagined musings: "It thought: `here I am still, in my black suit, warm and content'and drew a little music from its dark thighs." For all collections.Ellen Kaufman, Dewey Ballantine Law Lib., New York
From the Publisher
"From the chaos of the world, her poems distill what it means to be human and what is worthwhile about life." Library Journal

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780547525761
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
04/07/1998
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
80
Sales rank:
422,037
File size:
0 MB

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