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on December 15, 2005
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,
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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on October 24, 2008
The best poems say with words that which can't be said with words. I know that sounds like double-talk, but it's true. The best poems act as catalysts, creating emotions and connections in us that the words taken by themselves just don't convey. For example, veteran poet Mary Oliver's poem "Rain" (the first in her "New and Selected Poems, Volume One") opens with "All afternoon it rained, then / such power came down from the clouds / on a yellow thread, / as authoritative as God is supposed to be. / When it hit the tree, her body / opened forever." Beautiful, profound, and any attempt at explanation effectively kills the poetry.
Mary Olver's poems are like that: clear imagery, simple language, common themes brought together like "power . . . on a yellow thread" that packs a wallop. How's THIS for a brightly-lit thought: "Is the soul solid, like iron? / Or is it tender and breakable, like / the wings of a moth in the beak of the owl?"
And this seasoned poet has a few observations about life to share with us: "You do not have to be good. / You do not have to walk on your knees / for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. / You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves."
I've already ordered her "New and Selected Poems, Volume Two."
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on May 31, 2004
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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on July 19, 2017
God. I just fell in love with Mary Oliver. The poetry is simple in a spiritual, connected, deep and moving way. This book seems to capture an excellent variety of her poetry, I'll definitely be enveloping myself in more of hers.
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on May 8, 2017
I love Mary Oliver poems and this is a wonderful collection. Nearly every one is starred or dog-earred in my book by now. I return again and again, reading these poems. It covers many years of her writing, and makes you amazed at the quality she produced from beginning to end. You see themes she returns to over time: nature, death, life. Rather big ideas!
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on June 21, 2017
Although, this author is such an intelligent writer, the poetry includes very negative ideas it will take you some time to let her thoughts and feelings to be absorbed into your psyche
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on November 7, 2015
Saying that Mary Oliver writes "nature poetry" is like saying Louis Armstrong played the trumpet. Her verse is rich and deep, what Coleridge called philosophical poetry. And yes, she does look and listen deeply to the natural world, striving to be aware and yet become one with it. Oliver writes with passion in both the physical and spiritual senses. This collection is a way to spend some time in the company of a deep soul.
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on December 15, 2005
Mary Oliver's poems are masterful creations that resonate in my mind and heart each time I read them. Her language is soulful; her imagery brillant. She is a master craftsman who builds each poem precisely.

Her poems talk of so many things in the natural world; she distills each to its barest essence and allows us the enjoyment of sharing it; I always feel as though she invites me to come along to discover these sacred sights and insights found in nature.

The poems in this collection explore and reveal the essence of fireflies, moss, the stars, the toad, the owl, Daisies, beans, the cricket, the Black Bear, the seasons, Blackwater (a place), the Soul and many other creatures and their habitats.

She is a sublime poet of the natural world and this collection is superb!

I recommend it to anyone!
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on March 28, 2017
Her poems put me inside the cosmos. I was no longer an observer, I was a participant with all living and nonliving things. And she made me think about it all.
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on December 19, 2013
As a lover of both poetry and nature, I am a huge fan of Mary Oliver's work. She speaks for every joyous and uplifting experience I have had in the outdoors. Her voice is lyrical and yet hugely accessible -- no poetic obscurity here. When I was a teacher of English literature prior to my retirement, I used Oliver's poems quite frequently in the high school classroom. Because her poetry is layered, it provided depth, and students had to work for meaning; but because her poetry touches common human experience, even teens without much life experience could thoroughly relate. Now that I am older and disabled, unable to go hiking or enjoy nature as frequently or in the same way I once did, I can pick up an Oliver tome and be instantly transported in spirit to things I love dearly.
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