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Red Bird: Poems Hardcover – April 1, 2008

4.9 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Birds are totem animals for poets, and Oliver writes of her winged kindred spirits often, here addressing “red bird” with gratitude for “firing up the landscape” in winter. Red bird is an emblem of passion in a frozen world, and a sign of Oliver’s own resurgence of love and hope after the profound grief of her last collection, Thirst (2006). In “Summer Morning,” she writes, “Heart, / I implore you, / it’s time to come back / from the dark.” And in “Self -Portrait,” she exclaims, “Ah! seventy. And still / in love with life. And still / full of beans.” One of few avidly read living poets, Oliver revels in the beauty of the living world, and takes to heart its lessons in patience and pleasure, cessation and renewal. As piercingly observant as ever in this substantial and forthright collection, Oliver is rhapsodic. But she is also wry, caustic, and elegiac in critiquing our habit of violence, “the debris of progress,” and the cruel fate of rivers, polar bears, and all the wild places and animals we’ve endangered, and from which we still have so much to learn. --Donna Seaman

Review

Mary Oliver, who won the Pulitzer Prize in poetry, is my choice for her joyous, accessible, intimate observations of the natural world . . . She teaches us the profound act of paying attention—a living wonder that makes it possible to appreciate all the others.—Renée Loth, Boston Globe

"It has always seemed . . . that Mary Oliver might leave us any minute. Even a 1984 Pulitzer Prize couldn't pin her to the ground. She'd change quietly into a heron or a bear and fly or walk off forever. Her poems contain windows, doors, transformations, hints on how to escape the body; there's the 'glamour of death' and the 'life after the earth-life.' This urge to be transformed is yoked to a joy in this moment, this life, this body."—Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times

"'My work is loving the world,' Oliver tells us . . . She has always done that work . . . in poems of considerable beauty. Now she rises, not above the world, but through it."—Jay Parini, The Guardian
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (April 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780807068922
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807068922
  • ASIN: 0807068926
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 0.5 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #588,544 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Sandy Carlson on May 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Are you familiar with the poetry of Mary Oliver?" I asked a student once in the hope of beginning a conversation on the poem "Wild Geese," a gem that contains the lines

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.

en route to the statement "Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,/the world offers itself to your imagination." This was the line I wanted in the hope of beginning a conversation on inspiration.

"I think so," the young woman squinted, the better to scan a distant memory. "I think that's the lady who writes about, like, her dog, Percy, I think and trees. That her?"

"You can start there," I said. "And you will get to Mary Oliver."

Because Mary Oliver's poetry is about this moment in this world in this light in this weather, alone or with the dog or on the way to something or nothing. It's about being here and loving it.

I believe there is nothing worth saying about Mary Oliver. Better to spend the time reading her work, or revisiting the magic of the landscape of your life.

Her new collection Red Bird is her 12th volume of published poems. Here she speaks to the beauty of the ordinary, the environment, and the people of the world who suffer at the hands of those who love power.

The world offers itself to your imagination. Accept the invitation and walk with this wonderful woman from Provincetown, Massachusetts.
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Format: Hardcover
How beautifully we are invited in this most beautiful of Mary Oliver's books, to cease our restless strivings, to simply stand still, to listen, to watch, and to breathe in in gratitude for all that Life presents! Her words paint the invitation for us in tones that are sometimes as gentle as water-colours, sometimes as vibrant as a rich oil painting, revealing her awareness in the moment, telling us so much about her own love for life in all its forms. One of her great gifts is that ability to draw us to her as well as to the miracle of life around us, so that we have the feeling of walking the same path with her in companionable joy each moment. - It has been a great read, one that has brought much peace and a feeling of tranquillity and wellbeing to my spirit.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mary Oliver's simple, spiritual, nature infused poetry was never better. She teaches us all to watch all the details of Gods creations without preaching. We learn from the movement of her poetry, to recognize a cardinal when he lands, to know the names of all of natures wonders: pine needles and prairie dogs, cypress and elm,and we love the class as we learn. She faces life's curve balls with the wit and eye of a portrait painter who sees the tattered dress she wears as a badge not a burden. And she is aging so gracefully. I hope I do as well.
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Format: Hardcover
I had the privilege of seeing Mary Oliver in person; her physical appearance was so like her poetry. Human, present, honest and brilliant. A woman asked her a question, then the woman began to cry and the audience came to a slightly embarrassed quiet. Mary called out "Are you crying?" The woman barely answered, but one could hear her say "yes". "Good for you" said Mary, which just about brought the house down with sympathy and relief.
This was shortly after her partner died; the book is full of her courage, grief and ability to recognize the wonders in life even as her heart is aching. A must read for every woman who has ever expressed a love of poetry.
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Format: Paperback
This is one of the best books by Mary Oliver I've read. If you want to read some great work by an award winning poet, this is the place to start.

A few lines from this book:

"I was surrounded by the beautiful crying forth of the ideas of God. One of which was you."

"Put your lips to the world and live your life."

The poems in the books are largely nature inspired, but there is more. There is a poem about Iraq, Our culture, her dog Percy. All these poems are great, fun, light spirited and deep.

Mary Oliver has a simple way of personifying nature, and life that make her poetry easy to read, relatable, and unpretentious.

Her poetry is inspiring, and more so in this book than any of her others that I have read.
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By The Kat on July 13, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A Mary Oliver treasure. So hopeful and thoughtful. I gifted a friend who had lost someone to illness and it was perfect after some time had passed. She teases you back into life while putting and arm around you and sitting with your grief. About other things as well but I was drawn to that theme. It is about life. Mary is always just real and perfect and welcome.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am an Oliver fan. This and the Evidence collection of poems are absolutely heart-filling and so inspirational. I've given this and Evidence as gifts and gotten thanks back after friends took them on travels. Her timeless phrasing and vivid emotionally rich imagery in the poems make this and Evidence two of my favorite books in my home library. I have as e-book and in print for taking along on travels.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love all of Mary Oliver's poetry, but this book is definitely one of my favorites! If you're just becoming acquainted with Mary Oliver's work, this is a great place to start! Startlingly simple, vibrant, images that dive into the heart of the matter. Her poems are at time haunting, but always beautiful and will stay with you long after you finish reading them.
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