- Hardcover: 144 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Press; 1st Edition edition (October 8, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1594204780
- ISBN-13: 978-1594204784
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.7 x 8.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 451 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,338 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Dog Songs: Poems Hardcover – October 8, 2013
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The New York Times
“Dog Songs... is a sweet golden retriever of a book that curls up with the reader.”
The Boston Globe
“Oliver… is one of our most adored poets, and a longtime lover of dogs. The popularity of [Dog Songs] feels as inevitable and welcome as a wagging tail upon homecoming.”
“Mary Oliver is a canine lover par excellence. Her combo of woman’s best friend and poetry is utterly irresistible.”
“Mary Oliver’s Dog Songs is, plainly put, a lovely and accessible book of poems.”
“Oliver’s capacity for simple ecstasy in response to the natural world remains. The new Dog Songs turns… material about canines into something meaningful.”
“The set of poems all feature dogs, a species much beloved by the poet; she writes of her canine companions with as much awe and reverence as she does other miraculous beasts and natural phenomena. They read as embodiments of the natural order, comprehending the cycle of life and death in ways no human can.”
“Dog Songs collects her most soul-stirring poems and short prose celebrating that special human-canine relationship and what it reveals about the meaning of our own lives — a beautiful manifestation of Oliver’s singular sieve for extracting from the particularities of the poetic subject the philosophical universalities of the human condition to illuminate what it means to live a good life, a full life, a life of purpose and presence.”
Bookish, The Houston Chronicle:
“The collection invites us to linger awhile in the pure happiness Oliver feels toward dogs, most notably, her beloved dog Percy… For Oliver, nature is our teacher and dogs some of the best professors.”
“Renowned for her love of nature, Ms. Oliver writes exquisite, lyrical poems that… remind the reader of how much there is to love in this world. Nowhere is this love more evident than in Oliver’s latest collection, Dog Songs… These poems will make you smile, laugh, cry and nod your head in delighted agreement.”
About the Author
Born in a small town in Ohio, MARY OLIVER published her first book of poetry in 1963 at the age of twenty-eight. Over the course of her long career, she has received numerous awards. Her fourth book, American Primitive, won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1984. She has led workshops and held residencies at various colleges and universities, including Bennington College, where she held the Catharine Osgood Foster Chair for Distinguished Teaching. Oliver currently lives in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
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Mary Oliver is actually one of the few poets who does move me--and obviously I'm not alone. Probably some experts and academics will scoff, but to me she has both a delicacy and down-to-earth quality that offer grace so even someone like myself, who might be a bit tone deaf to the mystery and romance of more obscure works, really sees/listens (<italics).
In Dog Songs, Ms. Oliver works her magic. The book goes transcends mere doggy-doggyness. It's tends to fragility, love, and hurt. As she writes in "School," "How many summers does a little dog have?" In a way, her poems, with their warmth, intangible quality, and simplicity, offer the kind of pleasure dogs give.
Mary Oliver's work tends to be simple and pure; so it's not surprising Dog Songs is as well. But, she captures the nuanced and powerful relationship we have with dogs, and does so with so few words. And the poems are enhanced by with the realistic pen-and-ink illustrations by John Burgoyne.
In short, if you love dogs or Mary Oliver, you will enjoy this collection; if you love both, you'll be delighted.
In My Good Death:
I will find myself in high summer grass.
The humming shock of the golden light.
And I will hear them before I see them
and know right away who is bounding across the field to meet me.
All my good dogs will come then, their wet noses bumping against my palms,
their hot panting, their rough, faithful tongues.
Their eyes young and shiny again.
The dense scruff of their fur,
The unspeakable softness of their bellies,
their velvet ears against my cheeks.
I will bend to them, my face covered with their kisses,
My hands full of them.
In the grass I will let them knock me down."
For pure love and enjoyment, I turn to Mary Oliver. When I found out her new book would be published in October, I pre-ordered it. How could I resist a book named DOG SONGS?
I read these poems aloud to my dogs. Oliver reminds us that our dogs live in the moment, but they also feel our emotions. We know when we love a dog that its lifespan will probably be shorter than our own, and we must come to terms with the grief.
In this volume, Oliver's poems give the various dogs, some hers, some from the neighborhood,voices. They do speak to us.
Her Percy poems (Percy now deceased) are magical. She says, "For often I see his shape in the clouds/and this is/a continual blessing." I look for my dogs in the clouds too. I know this feeling.
Other poems celebrate dogs running leash-free, dogs making friends, dogs sharing their finds (dead fish), the dog's adoration of his human: "Percy, meanwhile,/leans against me and gazes up into my face. As though I were just as wonderful/as the perfect moon."
If you love a dog, pick up these poems. They will help you celebrate your love, and when that someday comes, grieve the loss. Another favorite line, "Tell me you love me, he says./"Tell me again."
Yes, Mary Oliver, I will tell my dogs I love them. And I love you too.