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137 of 137 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oliver integrates craft and heightened awareness.
Every poem in this book is a gem, and the collection made me want to read her complete works. While this is definitely not "religious poetry" of the greeting card variety, it is an expression of a deep spiritual awareness. Oliver's poems often reveal an amazement and wonder at being alive. Poetic skill and heightened awareness are so well-integrated, those...
Published on June 23, 1999

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too much nature
I have read and really loved some of Mary Oliver's more psychological poems. I guess I'm really not into the myriad nature poems she has here.
Published 9 months ago by marilyn kruse


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137 of 137 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oliver integrates craft and heightened awareness., June 23, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: New and Selected Poems (Paperback)
Every poem in this book is a gem, and the collection made me want to read her complete works. While this is definitely not "religious poetry" of the greeting card variety, it is an expression of a deep spiritual awareness. Oliver's poems often reveal an amazement and wonder at being alive. Poetic skill and heightened awareness are so well-integrated, those who are looking for well-crafted poetry will certainly find it, and those who are looking for an awakening of consciousness may also find that.
Although Oliver's environment, her field of play, is nature, I wouldn't reduce her to a "naturalist poet." Nature is always interpreted and absorbed by her vision. Nature reveals its secrets to her, but they are the secrets of her own soul. In her poetry, nature is the oracle that reveals the human psyche.
But I should include Oliver's own words, because no prose critique can do justice to the intoxicating natural imagery of her poems. In the poem "Peonies", the richness and fertility of nature mirror the same qualities of the imagination:
This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready to break my heart
as the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers
and they open- pools of lace,
white and pink- and all day the black ants climb over them,
boring their deep and mysterious holes into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,...
The poem ends with a challenge that reverberates through the book. In spite of the sense of death looming sometimes on the edge of the poem (and our lives), sometimes at the center, are we willing to fully experience life?
Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?
Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and softly,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,
with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing forever?
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118 of 118 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Re-editon from one of America's Greatest Living Poets, May 31, 2004
By 
Juan Mobili (Valley Cottage, NY USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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The only problem with a volume of Mary Oliver's collected poems is that whichever poems end up excluded are likely to be the reader's loss. Such incomparable consistency of craft and soul can be expected, every single time, from Ms. Oliver!
That said, no poem here is undeserving of its inclusion, and if it took an anthology like this to have you wonder about reading her for the first time, then thank God for this book.
Included here -note that this is only the first volume- are works from her earlier books, all of which are worth buying separately. A particularly important inclusion are the selections of American Primitive, in my opinion her most moving and accomplished collection.
Those who adore poems like the glorious "Wild Geese" or were moved by the wisdom of "The Journey," will be happy to know that they are, of course, contained in this volume, along with many others begetting similar acclaim.
So, five stars for Ms. Oliver only because I can't give her ten.
As far as the publisher, I would have liked a clearer indication that this is the very same edition already published years ago. At least in my case, the additional subtitle -"Volume One"- confused me and led me to buy something I already owned. In the other hand, if such mention indicates the upcoming release of a second volume -specially if more uncollected poems may be part of it, I'll be satisfied and forgiving.
For those who own everything by her and do not possess this volume, this is still a valid purchase on the basis of the, once, "new poems" contained and not available anywhere else.
Welcome -or welcome back- to the poetry of Mary Oliver. Let these words take your breath away with its exquisite and gently fierce call to opening your heart and be intelligent toward all beings.
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71 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars She Is A Sublime Witness To The Natural World!, December 15, 2005
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Mary Oliver overwhelms my visual and auditory senses with her language; it is precise and controlled; her imagery is brilliant. Using carefully chosen words she captures the "essence" of living things in the natural world.

Each work is masterful and seems a deep meditation that leaves a reader feeling refreshed and somehow privy to a personal, even private part of the poet as an investigator and witness to nature and its secrets.

Each time I read one of her poems I feel as if she is inviting me into the woods with her to witness the natural world in all of its sacredness.

I have yet to read a poem of hers that disappointed me.

Her mood-infused poem "Rain" (the first poem in the book) is sublime; and "Mushrooms" is glorious!

Read "Mushrooms" slowly and listen to the language; see the imagery in the mind:

Rain, and then
the cool pursed
lips of the wind
draw them
out of the ground---
red and yellow skulls
pummeling upward
through leaves,
through grasses,
through sand; astonishing
in their suddenness,
their quietude,
their wetness, they appear
on fall mornings, some
balancing in the earth
on one hoof
packed with poison,
others billowing
chunkily, and delicious---
those who know
walk out to gather, choosing
the benign from flocks
of glitterers, sorcerors,
russulas,
panther caps,
shark-white death angels
in their torn veils
looking innocent as sugar
but full of paralysis:
to eat
is to stagger down
fast as mushrooms themselves
when they are done being perfect
and overnight
slide back under the shining
fields of rain.

My God! I don't think that even a mushroom would know itself in that way.

She is a sublime witness to the natural world.

Mary Oliver is one of my favorite poets -- and let me tell you, I don't have many "favorite poets".

I recommend this poetry collection to you!
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Add my name to the list, September 28, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: New and Selected Poems (Paperback)
I've wanted to write a review of this book for a long time, but I've always resisted. After all, I thought, what can I add to what so many people have said about Mary Oliver and her wonderful poems? Well, as it turns out, there is something. No one, of all the readers who have written in, has singled out my favorite poem. I won't say it's better than anyone else's favorite; we all have our own special pathways to the heart, and different poems reach different people. But I've carried a clipping of it with me for years, since it appeared in an earlier collection, and I'm thrilled to see again in this new one. If only one person decides to read this book on the basis of this poem, it will be worth it for me. The poem is called "Late Spring Evening":
What can we say to these junebugs
on the rebound from the screens we raise
and swooning heavily to the porch floor?
Do we dare ask them their reasons
when we know they'll never ask ours?
Let's be content to guess, but not insist,
it's something to do with porchlights.
Unconsciousness
must be a consolation to them, batted by the cat,
but should we be consoled
by the unsought blessing of their presence?
Fly from the light, save yourselves, we'll tell them,
grateful they'll never heed us.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An incredible discovery, October 4, 2005
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I was recently invited to contribute to a poets and artists even called Wings, Feathers, Flight. Each poet was to read a selection from their own work and another from anothe rpoet. One of the poets read Oliver's poem on wild geese. Everyone seemed to know her and it. I immediately went out and bought this volume. Here is a poet who can lay such a careful argument that a line like: "We hope for magic; mystery endures." flows naturally from its contest into the verses that follow. Others: "To live in this world // you must ebe able / to do three things: / to love what is mortal; / to hold it // against your bones kknowing / your own life depends on it; / and, when the time comes to let it go, / to let it go." "Oh what good it does the heart / to know it isn't magic!" "I don't know exactly what prayer is. / I do know how to pay attention. ... / Tell me, what else should I have done?" "... the heart cries aloud: / yes, I am willing to be / that wild darkness, / that long, blue body of light." All this, mind you, in the contest of sumptuous, sharply observed, nature poetry. (The poems on owls I find particularly arresting.) This as superb as any carefully edited anthology can be -- and it's by a single author! What must Volume 2 (published October 2005) be like?!?
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking clarity, sanity, and tender love of this world, October 19, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: New and Selected Poems (Paperback)
Mary Oliver's poem "The Journey" came into my life when I was seriously ill and in desperate need of permission to rest. That poem became a talisman, a mentor, a voice ringing with sanity. I have shared it with many, many people over the last 10 years.... I've yet to encounter another poet whose voice is as pure, clear, lucid, and present. Mary's poems combine all the wonder of early childhood with the exquisite vision and discernment of someone who deeply, minutely, wildly loves Creation. Her poems are blessings, nothing less.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-have volume of poetry, July 20, 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: New and Selected Poems (Paperback)
With a Pulitzer and a National Book Award, Mary Oliver's poems will catch one's attention. But besides the kudos, this is plainly incredible writing. Her poetry comes closer to the sensibility, depth, and power of Emily Dickinson's writing than anyone in history. Yet Oliver is not a copycat version of the lady in white. Oliver's Nature has its very own stylistic plumes and claws. In a world of mainstream and so-what poetry, Oliver's insights continually cause me to catch my breath and say, Oh, yes. If you love poetry, if you occasionally collect a special volume, or if you're a novice poetry reader who doesn't want to get lost in the "wherefor's" and wails of pompous or confessional poetry, this is a book to own and love again and again
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A profound collection, January 7, 2002
By A Customer
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This review is from: New and Selected Poems (Paperback)
After Sept. 11, I read this book each night before going to sleep. The poems give me hope, help me focus on what's real and beautiful in the world, and inspire me. I've given copies to several friends, I just can't imagine anyone not being deeply moved by this book. I am so grateful to my husband for introducing me to the awe-inspiring work of Mary Oliver.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I was right there in the poem!, August 9, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: New and Selected Poems (Paperback)
My minister chose to read from Mary Oliver one Sunday, in place of her usual sermon. She read other poetry from other poets as well, but when she read "The Sunflowers" and "Creeks" I shut my eyes and felt the words, the air, the water! I was so inspired.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poet of the Natural World, February 16, 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: New and Selected Poems (Paperback)
My copy is dog-eared, and I've bought copies for friends in Ireland, Germany and Ecuador, as well as at home. Oliver's poems of the natural world help us see our oneness with All That Is. I hear her poems read in my Buddhist sangha, my Catholic parrish and also at AA meetings. I'd give her six stars for this book if I could!
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New and Selected Poems, Volume One
New and Selected Poems, Volume One by Mary Oliver (Hardcover - November 15, 2005)
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