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

The Wellspring

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  764 ratings  ·  31 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
Paperback, 112 pages
Published January 30th 1996 by Knopf
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 The Wellspring, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Wellspring

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
Best Poetry Books
248th out of 1,529 books — 1,678 voters
The Poet's song by Matthew WilliamsThe Farewell and other poems by Sanhita BaruahMy Sideways Heart by Nathan BrownAin't Nobody That Can Sing Like Me by Jeanetta Calhoun MishWork Is Love Made Visible by Jeanetta Calhoun Mish
A Few of My Favorite Poets
25th out of 26 books — 3 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,081)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
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.
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
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."
May 14, 2011 Jenna rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Lacey
Shelves: poetry
Sharon Olds is amazing. That is all.
BeccaAudra Smith
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
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
Jill Dater
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.
Tara Burke
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
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.
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...
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
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!
Michael Mingo
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").
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.
Olds is consistent to a fault, but either she or I is running out of steam for sex, family, and flesh.
Can I give more than five stars?
Mary Dillon
Sharon Olds chronicles the span of youth to middle age in this magnificent anthology.
my favorite of all her collections. she is my favorite poet after NERUDA.
The first book of poetry I ever bought for myself.
Raw. Olds writes like she's been flayed to the bone.
I can't stand reading poetry, but I like Sharon Olds.
Bobrhodes Rhodes
I'm re-reading this. Some very good stuff here.
Pretty poems mostly about her husband's scrotum.
Pete Planisek
Again a voice I like to revisit.
Jul 02, 2007 katie marked it as to-read
Shelves: poetry
rec: sarahd
[have copy]
i like olds in general.
Aug 14, 2007 Puja rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: own
not my favorite sharon olds
My favorite book of poetry.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 36 37 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Without: Poems
  • The Good Thief
  • Atlantis
  • Donkey Gospel
  • Otherwise: New & Selected Poems
  • The Country Between Us
  • Kyrie: Poems
  • Sun Under Wood
  • Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems, 1988-2000
  • American Sublime: Poems
  • Late Wife
  • Rose
  • Averno
  • Say Uncle
  • On the Bus With Rosa Parks
  • Domestic Work
  • What We Carry
  • When One Has Lived a Long Time Alone
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
More about Sharon Olds...
The Dead and the Living The Gold Cell (Knopf Poetry Series) Satan Says (Pitt Poetry Series) Stag's Leap: Poems The Father

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »