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West Wind: Poems and Prose Poems
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West Wind: Poems and Prose Poems

4.28 of 5 stars 4.28  ·  rating details  ·  488 ratings  ·  35 reviews
The New York Times has called Oliver's poems "thoroughly convincing - as genuine, moving, and implausible as the first caressing breeze of spring." In this stunning collection of forty poems she writes of nature and love, of the way they transform over time. And the way they remain constant. To quote Library Journal: "From the chaos of the world, her poems distill what it ...more
ebook, 80 pages
Published April 7th 1998 by Mariner Books (first published 1997)
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Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
This is a book of poems and prose poems. I read it twice. I will read it again. I dog-eared several favorites. As I go on rereading it, I'll probably dog-ear some more until I've dog-eared them all. Which one is the best? I think it would depend on one's mood. If one is in love, and thinking maybe that this love would last forever, even after death, then maybe it'd be the first poem of Part 2 which carries the book's title "West Wind." Right now, however, I like best this poem, "Am I Not Among t ...more
Melanie
Amazement (n.)
1590s, "mental stupefaction," early use of the Latin suffix with a native verb, from amaze + -ment. Meaning "overwhelming wonder" is c.1600.
I haven't read poetry in a long time but maybe that's a mistake because reading these poems in one sitting in the middle of the night was something else. They are truly stupefying. Not since Mark Strand or Frank O'Hara or Philip Levine had I felt language and life so vitally entwined. Rarely have I felt the primal energy and beauty of life and
...more
Kim
Sometimes, when I'm feeling lonely or unmotivated or just stuck in a place, I read Oliver, because her beautiful craft, her attention to nature and our place in it, and her honest, clean writing makes me so, so happy.
Joan
..."Do you think this world is only an entertainment for you?

Never to enter the sea and notice how the water divides
with perfect courtesy, to let you in!
Never to lie down on the grass, as though you were the grass!
Never to leap to the air as you open your wings over
the dark acorn of your heart!

No wonder we hear, in your mournful voice, the complaint
that something is missing from your life!"

--"Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches"
Mary Oliver
Matt
For the poems I'd already met, and liked, and that felt like old friends - I much enjoyed this. For the rest of it? I'd rather be outside than reading about the world out there; I've never been much good with poetry; Oliver's good with words and the weight of the world hanging on every wind, sure, but Kingsolver and Dillard say more with just as few words.

[3 stars for those familiar faces.]
Gloria
I have trouble appreciating poetry even as to whether I like it or not much less whether it is good or not by others' standards. This is contemporary and thoughtful and I did enjoy it in short reading sessions. Much of it involved nature. Mary Oliver has won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.
Ruby Jean Hopkins
Mary Oliver paints life... exactly as it is... and her own personal philosophy is so appealing, so real, and so believable that it makes her poetry pleasing and therapeutic and restful. This book is one of my favorites. I could read it over and over again.
D. Ryan
Very beautiful. Although I get the feeling that M. Oliver hangs out in the woods all day watching birds and listening to streams of water. She should write more about people. But maybe she does and I was just disappointed by the theme of the book.
Melanie Faith
Gorgeous work! One longer poem along with a series of shorter yet beautiful nature poems. One of my all-time favorite Oliver poems, "Stars," is included in this text, along with one of her two Best Of volumes. Perceptive, resonant work! :)
Carolyn
In celebration of Poetry Month, picked up this Mary Oliver collection yesterday. Really enjoy her poetry. Often set in nature, Oliver is a master at the details of the fleeting.
Tommy Butler
"and lo! they were wings--"

The poems "Spring", "Maples" and "West Wind" itself make this book shelf-worthy, even if not every poem in the mix grabs you.
Eliza T. Williamson
This collection of poems and prose poems is magical. We had a section of West Wind in our wedding program last summer...beautiful, triumphant writing.
Jillian
Again: Mary Oliver has restructured my world view. I especially enjoyed and was wounded by her prose poetry in this volume.
Dan
Sep 06, 2008 Dan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who enjoyes reading poetry or wants to give it a try!
I love Mary Oliver, full of nature, life, and spirituality. A wonderful collection of poems.
Ariel
what made me start reading poetry in high school
Cheryl
...willing/ to deliver themselves unto/the universe. (seven white butterflies)

She is talking about butterflies, and how they exuberantly fling themselves about, and mimic the way our monkey minds think, thought after thought, and further, how hard it is to actually quiet the mind. Just a simple, direct observation that quieted the anxiety I have been feeling lately, and a great example of how Mary Oliver's poetry is my best therapy. That, and nature, of course.

...how everything

trembles
then settl
...more
Sienna
Inconsistently exquisite, and worth reading for those moments when your breath catches: "Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?" "Who made your tyrant's body, your thirst, your delving, your gladness?" "But how did you come burning down like a wild needle, knowing just where my heart was?" "Little by little / the ocean / empties its pockets —"

I particularly liked "Black Oaks," "Am I Not Among the Early Risers," "Shelley," "Stars" and, most of all, the third of "Three Son
...more
Kerri Stebbins
There is a part I and a part II and a part III and all parts remind me of Dillard and of those of us who delight in the watching, who cherish the listening, who routinely practice losing ourselves with legs turning underneath us, slow or fast, in the mountains or amidst the trees or along the open shore.

One of my favorite passages, from "Black Oaks":

But to tell the truth after a while I'm pale with longing
for their thick bodies ruckled with lichen

and you can't keep me from the woods, from the
...more
Sarah Ansani
During my solitary moments, when thoughts of family, responsibilities, and decisions subside, I think about Mary Oliver and wonder what she discovered during her walk today. This thought is like my child. I listen to it, pay close attention, and nurture it.

It is always my pleasure to read Mary Oliver's poems. I admire her writing so much, that I don't even have it memorized. I want to keep rediscovering.

Just like she does.
metaphor
[...] and stood on the shore, thinking—
and if you think
thinking is a mild exercise,
beware!

I mean, I was swimming for my life—
and I was thundering this way
and that way in my shirt of feathers—
and I could not resolve anything long enough

to become one thing
except this: the imaginer.
It was inescapable
as over and over it flung me,

without pause or mercy it flung me
to both sides of the beautiful water—
to both sides
of the knife
Amey
West Wind #2

You are young. So you know everything. You leap
into the boat and begin rowing. But listen to me.
Without fanfare, without embarrassment, without
any doubt, I talk directly to your soul. Listen to me.
Lift the oars from the water, let your arms rest, and
your heart, and heart’s little intelligence, and listen to
me. There is life without love. It is not worth a bent
penny, or a scuffed shoe. It is not worth the body of a
dead dog nine days unburied. When you hear, a mile
away and still out of
...more
Rae
Oh, goodness. She feeds my soul.
Sophia
I especially liked stars and west wind... but also was riveted by the opening lines of Have you ever tried to enter the long black branches of others lives... very insightful
Naomi
Meditative poems on love and change and compassion, inviting contemplation, many of the lines are well suited for spiritual writing prompts and weekly reflections.
Peter D. Sieruta
Some of Oliver's poems are a little too enigmatic/obscure for my mainstream tastes, but most of the time they really make me look at and appreciate nature anew.
Mary Ellen
I was given this by a friend and it is so perfect for my move to the country! As always, Oliver creates marvelous images with just the most fabulous words.
Sunni
I love Mary Oliver, but this one sounded like echoes of past books. She may have found a great note, but singing it repeatedly gets old after a while.
Edmund Davis-Quinn
I want to like Mary Oliver more than I do.

This collection was pretty but didn't touch my heart.

So it goes.
Johanna Haas
In Oliver's poems the words talk about nature, but the ideas embrace humanity. This is a book to read again.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

“Mary Oliver. In a region that has produced most of the nation's poet laureates, it is risky to single out one fragile 71-year-old bard of Provincetown. But Mary Oliver, who won the Pulitzer Prize in poetry in 1983, is my choice for her joyous, accessible, intimate observati
...more
More about Mary Oliver...
New and Selected Poems, Vol. 1 A Thousand Mornings American Primitive Why I Wake Early Thirst

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“You are young. So you know everything. You leap into the boat and begin rowing. But, listen to me. Without fanfare, without embarrassment, without doubt,I talk directly to your soul. Listen to me.” 13 likes
“West Wind #2

You are young. So you know everything. You leap
into the boat and begin rowing. But listen to me.
Without fanfare, without embarrassment, without
any doubt, I talk directly to your soul. Listen to me.
Lift the oars from the water, let your arms rest, and
your heart, and heart’s little intelligence, and listen to
me. There is life without love. It is not worth a bent
penny, or a scuffed shoe. It is not worth the body of a
dead dog nine days unburied. When you hear, a mile
away and still out of sight, the churn of the water
as it begins to swirl and roil, fretting around the
sharp rocks – when you hear that unmistakable
pounding – when you feel the mist on your mouth
and sense ahead the embattlement, the long falls
plunging and steaming – then row, row for your life
toward it.”
5 likes
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