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The Wellspring

4.08  ·  Rating Details  ·  800 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
Sharon Olds's dazzling new collection is a sequence of poems that reaches into the very wellspring of life. The poems take us back to the womb, and from there on to childhood, to a searing sexual awakening, to the shock of childbirth, to the wonder and humor of parenthood--and, finally, to the depths of adult love.

Always bold, musical, honest, these poems plunge us into th
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Paperback, 88 pages
Published January 30th 1996 by Knopf
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The Complete Poems by Emily DickinsonLeaves of Grass by Walt WhitmanShakespeare's Sonnets by William ShakespeareThe Waste Land and Other Poems by T.S. EliotAriel by Sylvia Plath
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260th out of 1,616 books — 1,778 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,148)
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Danielle Barnhart
Nov 21, 2013 Danielle Barnhart rated it really liked it
Sharon Olds’ book, The Wellspring is a life-story of poems. Separated into four parts, the poems are narrative snapshots of confessional scenes and interactions. Each poem is written with candor and grace. The sections move from before the speaker’s birth to her mischievous childhood, to an unabashed sexual awakening into childbirth, the adoration of her children, and culminate with the wholly matured love between her and her husband.

Her craft and plainness of language lend to her authenticity.
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Kristin
Nov 01, 2008 Kristin rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
The poems that touched me the most were the ones in which Olds imagines what life must have been like for her parents before she was born (e.g. "Visiting My Mother's College") as well as well as all of the poems about her own children in Part 3 of book. For me, these poems from her own perspective as a mother, especially "The Bonding" about the bond between her son and daughter and "High School Senior" about her love for her daughter, made me aware of just how much our parents must love us. Ther ...more
Emily
Sep 03, 2015 Emily added it
Shelves: poetry
My favorite thing about Olds' poetry is her obsession with the physical body, and that's here in full force (although with maybe one or two too many poems about dicks). Been working my way slowly though this one all summer, and have mostly really enjoyed it. Best poem: His Father's Cadaver.
Sarah
Feb 05, 2008 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Each time I read this book, different poems stand out as my favorites. My favorite this time around is a poem about her daughter, as she looks through college applications, that goes something like "Just as I was a daughter inside my mother's life, I am a mother inside my daughter... I have yet to be born."
Jenna
May 14, 2011 Jenna rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Lacey
Shelves: poetry
Sharon Olds is amazing. That is all.
BeccaAudra Smith
Feb 05, 2013 BeccaAudra Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really love the possessive element of love Sharon Olds portrays, it permeates all aspects so that she is witness to her parent's love making, she prays for her son's body during his illness, 'I think of your penis, its/ candour and virtue' (Poem to Our Son after a High Fever). I found all of her poems about her son especially moving. She brings you in to this immediate sensual world with a single line of imagery that makes me feel as if I have just been granted a close up of something profound ...more
Patty
I was sure I wrote a review for this before I returned it to the library. I like having a book nearby to refer to when I write my review. This is especially true for poetry, since I like to list the poems that were most important to me. I guess I will have to get the book out again.

I have encountered Olds' life in reverse. Earlier, I read her book, Stag's Leap about the end of her marriage. This collection is about the beginnings of her life, including her marriage. Her marriage in the later poe
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Jill Dater
Dec 23, 2014 Jill Dater rated it really liked it
It's been awhile since I've read poetry and Olds lays it out in all it's raw, beautiful, messy glory. Poems mostly about motherhood, sex, and domestic life.
Sierra Gardiner
Jul 14, 2015 Sierra Gardiner rated it it was amazing
Shelves:
So so so good
Tara Burke
Feb 24, 2015 Tara Burke rated it really liked it
I've known for a long time that Olds was a writer after my own heart, but I've never read a full collection of hers, and this was my first. It was so beautiful, so rich and bold with its storytelling. So body and sex-centric, so aware and awake to the history of her body and life as a daughter, mother, wife, and lover. We should be so bold as to tell it straight like her, with head held high. Sometimes I think this is the better kind of art.
T Fool
Aug 28, 2013 T Fool rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed-books
SO is impressive in her intelligence and her articulation. This work, personal as many of her poems are, centers closely around family -- parents, husband, children -- and avoids sentimentality despite her clear tenderness by bringing us closely in, with an almost embarrassing sharpness of taboo (?) detail.

This is honest. Naturalistic in its embracing love. This woman has heart and eye as well as brain.
Yvonne
Mar 13, 2011 Yvonne rated it really liked it
Stellar poetry following the stages of a woman's (presumably Sharon Olds'!) life. I don't read poetry on a regular basis but really enjoy all of these as they touch on our common journey through childhood, young adulthood and motherhood. And I love the way she puts the words together, so lyrical and intimate. I keep meaning to return this book to the library but have not yet been able to bring myself to do it...
Katie
Jan 07, 2014 Katie rated it liked it
I didn't connect with it the way I did with her newest collection Stag Leap. Maybe because the poems were about sex and children instead of (sex and) heartbreak. It felt one-note.
Amy Kitchell-Leighty
Oct 21, 2008 Amy Kitchell-Leighty rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
a little dissapointing and that's hard for me to sya because I'm a HUGE Sharon-fan...huge! But compared to her other books this one just doesn't hold a candle...seems like she's trying, unsuccessfully, to capture what she had in previous books. Maybe next time Sharon!
Helen
Sep 16, 2015 Helen rated it it was amazing
I love the way Olds incorporates the human body into her poetry. She doesn't shy away from anatomical detail, even when discussing sex between more mature adults. A very honest look at motherhood as well as female sexuality.
Michael Mingo
Nov 09, 2013 Michael Mingo rated it really liked it
I'd prefer more (or any) formal variations, but Olds has a way of presenting quotidian experiences in heightened language. She is especially effective when in the persona of a parent watching her children grow up (e.g., "Solo").
*Christie*
Aug 16, 2011 *Christie* rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I learned about Sharon Olds while doing a writer's boot camp this summer. She has such a way with words that create visible scenes. Extremely honest and graphic. Take that as you will.
Gordon
Jun 14, 2013 Gordon rated it liked it
Olds is consistent to a fault, but either she or I is running out of steam for sex, family, and flesh.
Judy
Dec 09, 2015 Judy rated it really liked it
you can all way count on her to leave you with something that sticks in your mind.
Punkingate
Sep 25, 2014 Punkingate rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Can I give more than five stars?
Mary Dillon
Mar 09, 2009 Mary Dillon rated it really liked it
Shelves:
Sharon Olds chronicles the span of youth to middle age in this magnificent anthology.
Antonia
Feb 09, 2009 Antonia rated it it was amazing
my favorite of all her collections. she is my favorite poet after NERUDA.
Casey
Jan 09, 2011 Casey rated it really liked it
The first book of poetry I ever bought for myself.
Kristina
Mar 02, 2011 Kristina rated it really liked it
Raw. Olds writes like she's been flayed to the bone.
Valerie
Mar 19, 2008 Valerie rated it really liked it
I can't stand reading poetry, but I like Sharon Olds.
Bobrhodes Rhodes
I'm re-reading this. Some very good stuff here.
Mary
Apr 28, 2011 Mary rated it liked it
Pretty poems mostly about her husband's scrotum.
Pete Planisek
Jun 30, 2012 Pete Planisek rated it it was amazing
Again a voice I like to revisit.
katie
Jul 02, 2007 katie marked it as to-read
Shelves: poetry
rec: sarahd
[have copy]
powei
Apr 20, 2007 powei rated it really liked it
i like olds in general.
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Born in San Francisco on November 19, 1942, Sharon Olds earned a B.A. at Stanford University and a Ph.D. at Columbia University.

Her first collection of poems, Satan Says (1980), received the inaugural San Francisco Poetry Center Award. Olds's following collection, The Dead & the Living (1983), received the Lamont Poetry Selection in 1983 and the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Her other col
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