Rating out of five:
I like the individual collections I’ve read more (A thousand mornings, Upstream and even volume one of this one), because they are a better mix of varied subjects, so it doesn’t become too much nature all at once (I didn’t know that was even possible before this). These new and selected poems still gives a good direction in which to continue reading Mary Oliver’s poetry, as my favourite poems here seems to have been published around the same time and I will certainly look up those collection.
It’s still brilliant poems, with Mary Oliver’s usual focus on nature, landscape, animals, people, writing and love. I’ve collected my favourite ones in a document and there’s fifteen, which was way more than I expected. Oliver’s words just speak true, the observations are lovely to read and gradually thought-provoking at the same time.
THE FACES OF DEER
When for too long I don’t go deep enough
into the woods to see them, they begin to
enter my dreams. Yes, there they are, in the
pinewoods of my inner life. I want to live a life
full of modesty and praise. Each hoof of each
animal makes the sign of a heart as it touches
then lifts away from the ground. Unless you
believe that heaven is very near, how will you
find it? Their eyes are pools in which one
would be content, on any summer afternoon,
to swim away through the door of the world.
Then, love and its blessing. Then: heaven.
– Mary Oliver
I was sad all day, and why not. There I was, books piled
on both sides of the table, paper stacked up, words
falling off my tongue.
The robins had been a long time singing, and now it
was beginning to rain.
What are we sure of? Happiness isn’t a town on a map,
or an early arrival, or a job well done, but good work
ongoing. Which is not likely to be the trifling around
with a poem.
Then it began raining hard, and the flowers in the yard
were full of lively fragrance.
You have had days like this, no doubt. And wasn’t it
wonderful, finally, to leave the room? Ah, what a
As for myself, I swung the door open. And there was
the wordless, singing world. And I ran for my life.
— Mary Oliver