Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “House of Light” as Want to Read:
House of Light
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

House of Light

4.39  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,056 Ratings  ·  76 Reviews
Winner of a 1991 Christopher Award

Winner of the 1991 Boston Globe Lawrence L. Winship Book Award

This collection of poems by Mary Oliver once again invites the reader to step across the threshold of ordinary life into a world of natural and spiritual luminosity.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
ebook
Published March 28th 2012 by Beacon Press (first published 1990)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about House of Light, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about House of Light

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,849)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
s.penkevich
Mar 23, 2013 s.penkevich rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?


Despite owning Oliver’s two volume New and Selected Poems, I couldn’t resist snatching up this tiny collection when I stumbled upon it at a library book sale in the fifty cents bin. Although it was her American Primitive that achieved her Pulitzer recognition, House of Light remains my favorite collection of Oliver’s picturesque poetry. After spending a few days in poetic rapture through each word and staggered stanzas, I r
...more
Katie
Aug 23, 2013 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I am not a very ironic person. I've learned that over the past couple of years: of course I like some irony and some sarcasm now and again, and it will nearly always make me laugh, but what I really love is earnestness. Maybe I should be reading more poetry.

Mary Oliver's collection of poetry is about nature and light and loveliness, and there is a pervasive sense of open-heartedness and earnestness throughout that I found to be really moving. The majority of poems in this collection are just he
...more
Jessica
Dec 26, 2007 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: seekers and yearners
Lilies


I have been thinking
about living
like the lilies
that blow in the fields.

They rise and fall in the wedge of the wind,
and have no shelter
from the tongues of the cattle,

and have no closets or cupboards,
amd have no legs.
Still I would like to be
as wonderful

as that old idea.
But if I were a lily
I think I would wait all day
for the green face

of the hummingbird
to touch me.........


My love for MO begins with the "wedge of the wind" "no shelter from the tongues of cattle" and strengthens with "as wo
...more
Heidi
This is a book that travels with me wherever I go. I am always reading a poem or two. It is a forever read - not one I can mark as read.

Mary Oliver speaks to my soul through the profundities of nature.

Thank you, Mary.
Hissa Reads
Sep 16, 2015 Hissa Reads rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I liked some of the poems and I also disliked some. I'm not a fan of poems that are mainly about nature and birds and all that stuff. But I have got to say some of her poems made me like them a little. Idk the book wasn't that bad I guess.
Anya
Mary Oliver is a goddess.
Nicole K
Nov 25, 2014 Nicole K rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book has soul.
Jean-Paul Walshaw-Sauter
Some Questions You Might Ask

Is the soul solid, like iron?
Or is it tender and breakable, like
the wings of a moth in the beak of an owl?
Who has it, and who doesn't?
I keep looking around me.
The face of the moose is as sad
as the face of Jesus.
The swan opens her white wings slowly.
In the fall, the black bear carries leaves into the darkness.
One question leads to another.
Does it have a shape? Like an iceberg?
Like the eye of a hummingbird?
Does it have one lung, like the snake and the scallop?
Why should
...more
Maxwell
Jan 28, 2014 Maxwell rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own-it, 2014, poetry
This review is probably going to be an unpopular opinion considering how well-regarded, successful, and honored Mary Oliver is. However, personally I felt like reading an entire collection of her poems was a bit redundant. Almost all of her poems, and I am not exaggerating, had to do with birds of some sort. And while I understand that is what inspires her to write and produces some beautiful poetry, I think that after reading about 50 poems and over half of them being about owls or finches or k ...more
Lis
Sep 20, 2009 Lis rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I love Mary Oliver in general, so I've slowly been collecting her individual volumes of poetry in addition to the Selected Poems I had first. This is often a good strategy, as it's likely that some of the poems that didn't make it into the selected works will be worth reading anyway.

, I'm afraid, isn't really worth that effort. There are some excellent poems here, like "Some Questions You Might Ask," "Little Owl Who Lives in the Orchard," and "The Lilies Break Open Over the Dark Water." But you'
...more
Sienna
Jul 07, 2013 Sienna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, 2013, poetry
Mary Oliver's poems read like small songs, arpeggios — repeated motifs, staggered lines — intensifying her vision of the natural world and identifying her place in it. This is the first collection of her that I've read; it won't be the last. She immerses herself and her words in nature but ultimately keeps a quiet distance: "What I mean is, / could I forget myself // even in those feathery fields?" As a result her work is less visceral than, say, Sarah Jackson's, though no less deeply felt. I th ...more
Shannon
Mar 28, 2012 Shannon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
This is my third volume of Mary Oliver's poetry this year and I liked it the least of the three. (I started with Thirst, then read Why I Wake Early.) House of Light was written several years before the other volumes and I could see how her poetry developed over the years. I simply liked the more developed poetry found in her later books.

Like Thirst and Why I Wake Early, House of Light is full of poems that will encourage you to look more closely at nature and its maker. Oliver looks at the world
...more
Yelda
To start the new year, here is a brilliant line from Mary Oliver's nature-loving, mystifying collection that will surely inspire and mobilize even the most skeptical reader of poetry. In an otherwise sleepy compilation, I found this line electrifying and wanted to share it. Her unstinting voice comes through like a bird imparting a prophetic message:

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?"

From "The Summer Day."
Amey
Mar 04, 2013 Amey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay
...more
Timothy Browning
The perfect Thanksgiving read. I think I will definitely make Mary Oliver a thanksgiving tradition.
Nancy
Apr 18, 2011 Nancy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this collection of poetry from the first page with the poem “Some Questions You Might Ask” that begins with “Is the soul solid, like iron? / Or is it tender and breakable, like / the wings of a moth in the beak of the owl? . . . “ to the last poem in the book—“White Owl Flies Into and Out of the Field” beginning with “Coming down / out of the freezing sky / with its depths of light, / like an angel, / or a Buddha with wings, . . . “ Oliver blends philosophical thought with the natural wor ...more
Michelle
Oct 26, 2014 Michelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mary Oliver cannot write a bad poem. That's all.
Mel
Jul 15, 2015 Mel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How is it possible that this slim little book, full of what are essentially animal poems, could be so amazing? And the thing is, it's beyond amazing, really. In fact it almost seems cheap to call it that. I felt that each poem in here cleansed my soul and comforted me about something I didn't even know - or want to admit - that I needed to be comforted about. I haven't had a reacted the way I did to these poems to any other book in a long, long time. Several times I was moved to tears by a poem, ...more
Venus Blancia
Jun 20, 2015 Venus Blancia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I got a lot of questions after reading the Poem, Roses, Late Summer, but absolutely no question for Ms. Mary Oliver winning the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

Roses, Late Summer

What happens
to the leaves after
they turn red and golden and fall
away? What happens

to the singing birds
when they can't sing
any longer? What happens
to their quick wings?

Do you think there is any
personal heaven
for any of us?
Do you think anyone,

the other side of that darkness,
will call to us, meaning us?
Beyond the trees
the fo
...more
Anna
Nov 19, 2008 Anna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
"The Summer Day" first captured my attention in the "Americans' Favorite Poems" collection Jesse gave me a few years back. I was particularly captured by the closing lines, "Tell me, what is it you plan to do / with your one wild and precious life?" This is one of the few collections by a single poet I've bought and read through start to finish, and I love it.
Kirsten
I love Mary Oliver, and this book contains many luminous poems that take nature as their starting point, but move on to something deeper than simply describing the beauty of the natural world.
Ashley
Nov 14, 2014 Ashley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love her writings on the natural world.

“Still, what I want in my life is to be willing to be dazzled— to cast aside the weight of facts and maybe even to float a little above this difficult world. I want to believe I am looking into the white fire of a great mystery. I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing— that the light is everything—that it is more than the sum of each flawed blossom rising and fading. And I do.”

"You must not ever stop being whimsical. And you must not, ever, g
...more
Darrin Kramer
Generally not a fan of nature based poetry. However Oliver reminds of to be balanced in the approaching storms of life; that we can and do find a measure of happiness along our trek. The collect is a relaxing read.
Kathryn
Dec 04, 2015 Kathryn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Intense poems filled with life and death in the natural world and the mysteries that the speaker ruminates on while carefully observing and depicting them. This volume contains the classics "the summer day" and "some questions you might ask," but maybe because I was already familiar with those I was much more interested in the tougher, more ambivalent poems about carnivory and the daily struggle for survival that looks like beauty from a safe enough distance.
Scott Anderson
Jul 31, 2014 Scott Anderson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I need to reconnect to what is actually important - to what centers me and keeps me whole, I read Mary Oliver.
Ed Smiley
Apr 15, 2012 Ed Smiley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I tend to like poetry that is lyric and ornamental, and that hypnotizes me with its pure language. Mary Oliver is a bit more matter of fact than that, though I allow much of her imagery and language is beautiful. In a sense she is an essayist, in the original sense used by Montaigne, of weighing or assaying pr questioning what one thinks of things. But instead of arriving on a view in an intellectual sense, she presents a view in the sense of actual seeing. She started to win me over as I learne ...more
Dawn
It's a pretty set of poems, and they certainly make you think.
Tin
Jan 24, 2016 Tin added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Truly what a joyful voice
Anne
Dec 02, 2015 Anne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of Mary Oliver's best!
Holly
Jun 19, 2015 Holly rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Must be read aloud to appreciate the poetry
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 61 62 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Short & Sweet Treats: House of Light 7 35 Sep 14, 2015 05:35AM  
  • Fuel
  • A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems, 1979-1997
  • Delights and Shadows
  • Radial Symmetry
  • Questions About Angels
  • Thrall
  • House of Belonging
  • The Way It Is: New and Selected Poems
  • One Hundred Poems from the Chinese
  • Blizzard of One
  • The Human Line
  • Carnival Evening: New and Selected Poems, 1968-1998
  • Averno
  • Braided Creek
  • Passing Through: The Later Poems, New and Selected
  • A Wild Patience Has Taken Me This Far
  • New and Collected Poems
  • The Moon Is Always Female: Poems
23988
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...

Share This Book



No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“Still, what I want in my life
is to be willing
to be dazzled—
to cast aside the weight of facts

and maybe even
to float a little
above this difficult world.
I want to believe I am looking

into the white fire of a great mystery.
I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing—
that the light is everything—that it is more than the sum
of each flawed blossom rising and falling. And I do.”
20 likes
“how could there be a day in your whole life that doesn’t have its splash of happiness?” 7 likes
More quotes…