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Why I Wake Early: New Poems Paperback – April 15, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 88 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (April 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807068799
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807068793
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.3 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,632 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for Mary Oliver's poetry:

'These are life enhancing and redemptive poems that coax the sublime from the subliminal.' --Sally Connolly, Poetry

'Mary Oliver's poems are natural growths out of a loam of perception and feeling, and instinctive skill with language makes them seem effortless. Reading them is a sensual delight.' --May Swenson

'The gift of Oliver's poetry is that she communicates the beauty she finds in the world and makes it unforgettable.’ -Miami Herald

About the Author

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.

More About the Author

A private person by nature, Mary Oliver has given very few interviews over the years. Instead, she prefers to let her work speak for itself. And speak it has, for the past five decades, to countless readers. The New York Times recently acknowledged Mary Oliver as "far and away, this country's best-selling poet." Born in a small town in Ohio, Oliver published her first book of poetry in 1963 at the age of 28; No Voyage and Other Poems, originally printed in the UK by Dent Press, was reissued in the United States in 1965 by Houghton Mifflin. Oliver has since published many works of poetry and prose. As a young woman, Oliver studied at Ohio State University and Vassar College, but took no degree. She lived for several years at the home of Edna St. Vincent Millay in upper New York state, companion to the poet's sister Norma Millay. It was there, in the late '50s, that she met photographer Molly Malone Cook. For more than forty years, Cook and Oliver made their home together, largely in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where they lived until Cook's death in 2005. Over the course of her long and illustrious career, Oliver has received numerous awards. Her fourth book, American Primitive, won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1984. She has also received the Shelley Memorial Award; a Guggenheim Fellowship; an American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Achievement Award; the Christopher Award and the L.L. Winship/PEN New England Award for House of Light; the National Book Award for New and Selected Poems; a Lannan Foundation Literary Award; and the New England Booksellers Association Award for Literary Excellence. Oliver's essays have appeared in Best American Essays 1996, 1998, 2001; the Anchor Essay Annual 1998, as well as Orion, Onearth and other periodicals. Oliver was editor of Best American Essays 2009. Oliver's books on the craft of poetry, A Poetry Handbook and Rules for the Dance, are used widely in writing programs. She is an acclaimed reader and has read in practically every state as well as other countries. She has led workshops at various colleges and universities, and held residencies at Case Western Reserve University, Bucknell University, University of Cincinnati, and Sweet Briar College. From 1995, for five years, she held the Catharine Osgood Foster Chair for Distinguished Teaching at Bennington College. She has been awarded Honorary Doctorates from The Art Institute of Boston (1998), Dartmouth College (2007) and Tufts University (2008). Oliver currently lives in Provincetown, Massachusetts, the inspiration for much of her work.

Photo Credit: Rachel Giese Brown, 2009.

Customer Reviews

I will read more of Mary Oliver's poetry and books.
Sandra E. Schechter
Mary Oliver has written a beautiful collection of 47 poems that shows her love of nature, and really why she does wake early to greet the day.
Brenda Jo Mengeling
Oh Lord, how shining and festive is your gift to us, if we only look, and see.
Patricia Kramer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

109 of 110 people found the following review helpful By Brenda Jo Mengeling on November 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Mary Oliver has written a beautiful collection of 47 poems that shows her love of nature, and really why she does wake early to greet the day. One of the qualities of her writing that I most enjoyed is that she expresses her intricate love of nature with a joy that lacks sentimentality. She spends her time determining what she is seeing and hearing and writes about that rather than looking inward to how she feels about everything. Therefore, her joy and feeling come through in the words she chooses to describe her subjects, and not in a list of subjective feelings. For me, that made her poetry universal and a communication that I could share in. I highly recommend this book for both the poetry and nature lover.
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95 of 101 people found the following review helpful By Zelda on August 14, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is a lovely, uplifting book of poems. It celebrates the gifts life provides if we would only wake and observe the natural world. These poems bring solace to the soul. They seem to come from a place where one's life is winding down, slowing to a comfortable and relaxed peace - as if Mary Oliver is held in the arms of the natural world near the end of life and describing how wonderful it all is.

This book tells us it is enough to be at peace with the world and to enjoy what we've been given. Now in her seventies, she may have moved beyond the inner struggles of past and worries of future. The poems in Why I Wake Early, seem to say that for her it is now enough to observe, describe, and enjoy what nature offers. She does not need to wrestle with meaning - just be and enjoy.

Perhaps I am too cynical, certainly less evolved or mature. However, I was hoping for more poems that touched upon the conflicts and cruelty we observe and survive. I wanted to experience more poems with challenge and pain - like those in American Primitive. I was hoping for poems that moved through beauty and darkness, then resolved in a wiser, deeper peace.

So, I was disappointed because the poems in Why I Wake Early lacked angst and profound observations. Don't get me wrong - these poems are eloquent, beautifully descriptive and gentle - full of appreciation and respect for the natural world. They are each a gift of thanks.

I just happen to prefer the depth and range of her earlier poems. I recommend new readers get and read her Selected Poems first, then read this book. All of her books are treasures, including this one - so whatever you do, read Mary Oliver's work. I've given books by her to many friends, and each of them comments on what amazing poems they are. She is a remarkable, gifted poet - one of the best in America.
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51 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Julie Jordan Scott on July 10, 2005
Format: Paperback
This slim volume is so aptly named - it could

be the opposite of a lullaby - a book filled with

"songs to awaken by".....

A pure celebration of life, I slowly reveled in

each poem... at times gasping out loud by

the gentle ferocity of the words and imagery.

Favorites include "Where Does the Temple

End and Where Does it Begin?" and "Just a

Minute" said a voice.

I know this is a title I will read over and over and

over and over again..........
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By C. Felton on February 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Mary Oliver not only observes the natural world around here but finds language to express its many moods and meanings, linking them to her outer and inner life. The "simple" cadences of her lines carry a hidden depth to them. Well worth reading and meditating upon.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By William Wittmann on March 17, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is what I'm talking about...

There are things you can't reach. But

you can reach out to them, and all day long.

The wind, the bird flying away. The idea of God.

And it can keep you as busy as anything else, and happier.

From Where Does the Temple Begin, Where Does It End?

Certainly, Mary Oliver knows this haiku by Zen poet, Basho?

The temple bell stops

but I still hear the sound coming

out of the flowers.

What poem could you write?
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Patricia Kramer on October 11, 2007
Format: Paperback
Savoring Mary Oliver's poems bring me joy, they are a respite from the news of our times and a balm to my soul. The theme throughout this book is to pay attention, to stop and watch and be amazed.

Look and See
This morning, at waterside, a sparrow flew
to a water rock and landed, by error, on the back
of an eider duck; lightly it fluttered off, amused.
The duck, too, was not provoked,but, you might say, was
laughing.

This afternoon a gull sailing over
our house was casually scratching
its stomach of white feathers with one
pink foot as it flew.

Oh Lord, how shining and festive is your gift to us, if we
only look, and see.

Last night I attended a talk at The Wisconsin Book Festival by Rick Bass and Terry Tempest Williams. Their theme was to not only pay attention to the wonders of nature, but to pay attention to what is happening to it, local warming, the lack of water in the West, the disruption of migration patterns and habitat. Pay Attention.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Billy Lombardo on March 6, 2008
Format: Paperback
I really don't know much about poetry, except that I like that it seems to be less fettered by rules. I like it for its rhythms and possibility and for its hope. A friend showed me a poem of Mary Oliver's this spring, This Morning I Watched the Deer, and I thought more people will read poetry if they are shown this poem.
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