Monday, March 30, 2009


Some words and phrases have power over me-- they command my attention, prick up my ears, scald my soul, and/or unshackle my heart. Here are a few of those (there are many more):

Lost legends

ancient words

mighty river

elemental theme

the power of love

the cleft of a rock

Why? I don’t know. They just throb with intrigue or romance or something.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Mary Oliver--Evidence

I just bought Mary Oliver’s latest book, Evidence, which arrived in its Amazon box yesterday. Sitting down to eat a sandwich at lunch today, I intended to read a few poems while I ate. But I was so fascinated that I sat there over an hour, reading, and read almost the whole book.

I finally stopped, not because I was tired of it or had something else to do, but because I know that I tend to read faster and faster when I like what I am reading. I could see myself starting to whiz through them too fast to let them soak in. And her poems are deep, fresh, pleasant water for soaking.

Mary Oliver sees God within his creation. Her birds and rivers sing of his mysteries and of the joy of all life. Her otters and grass and wolves speak silently of beauty and obedience and wonder. In this book, she explores in greater depth than ever the questions of death, life, love, and purpose.

Her poetry is universal—its truths are elemental themes we know are true because they resound within us. Here’s her poem about that very thought—universality:

I Want to Write Something So Simply

I want to write something
so simply
about love
or about pain
that even
as you are reading
you feel it
and as you read
you keep feeling it
and though it be my story
it will be common,
though it be singular
it will be known to you
so that by the end
you will think—
no, you will realize—
that it was all the while
yourself arranging the words,
that it was all the time
words that you yourself,
out of your own heart
had been saying.

Oliver, Mary. Evidence: Poems by Mary Oliver. Boston: Beacon, 2009.