It’s hard to review a book of poetry. Mary Oliver is one of my favorite poets, and I discovered her work a few years ago by picking up one of her books in a bookstore and opening to random pages and reading her poems. (That’s how I have discovered most every poet that I like.) I was quickly enchanted and have since been amassing most of her published work.
Mary Oliver’s poems speak to the harmony we can find with nature and the wonder of being alive in a beautiful world. They are the kind of poems I imagine Anne Shirley would write. If you (like me) view Anne Shirley as a kindred spirit, you will likely find delight in Mary Oliver’s poems as well.
I loved this collection. The first 3 or 4 poems didn’t really capture me, and I was wondering if I’d enjoy this collection as much as the rest. But then suddenly I was hooked and loved every single one of the poems that followed. It ended up being my favorite of all her collections that I’ve read so far.
One of the poems is titled “I’m feeling fabulous, possibly too much so, but I love it” – how can you not smile at a title like that?
Because I believe you have to read/sample a poet’s work to know what you might like, here’s my favorite poem from this collection.
IF I WANTED A BOAT by Mary Oliver
I would want a boat, if I wanted a
boat, that bounded hard on the waves,
that didn’t know starboard from port
and wouldn’t learn, that welcomed
dolphins and headed straight for the
whales, that, when rocks were close,
would slide in for a touch or two,
that wouldn’t keep land in sight and
went fast, that leaped into the spray.
What kind of life is it always to plan
and do, to promise and finish, to wish
for the near and the safe? Yes, by the
heavens, if I wanted a boat I would want
a boat I couldn’t steer.