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Red Bird

4.38  ·  Rating Details ·  1,594 Ratings  ·  177 Reviews
A new volume of poems by one of America's most loved and respected poets, including her first-ever cycle of love poems Red bird came all winter / firing up the landscape / as nothing else could. So begins Mary Oliver's twelfth book of poetry, and the image of that fiery bird stays with the reader, appearing in unexpected forms and guises until, in a postscript, he explains ...more
Hardcover, 78 pages
Published April 1st 2008 by Beacon Press (MA) (first published January 1st 2008)
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(showing 1-30)
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brian tanabe
Mar 26, 2008 brian tanabe rated it really liked it
I read this a month or two ago in preparation for a reading last night -- I didn't quite know what to expect as I am somewhat new to Mary Oliver. Anyway, it was a beautiful night and an incredible reading. She was a bit older than I imagined and a bit more frail, but that is truly beside the point.

My original interpretation of the poems in Red Bird, perhaps due entirely to the way I read them, had a slight sensuality to them. Hearing Mary read aloud some of these poems (and from other collection
Books Ring Mah Bell
Jun 05, 2008 Books Ring Mah Bell rated it it was amazing
Yeah,I'm yelling at you , reading the Sandra Brown! Hey!! Put down the James Patterson and get your hands on this!! It will rock your poetic world.

GO! While you are out, pick up a copy for me, so I don't "forget" to give this back to my friend.
Nikki Nielsen
Mar 26, 2008 Nikki Nielsen rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone that appreciates poetry
...and this is why I have been sent,
To teach this to your heart.

What a beautiful variety of poetry. I am new to Mary Oliver and can't wait to get my hands on more of her writing. She expresses love, appreciation for nature, gratitude, and even disappointment with those who are power hungry in a very flowing prose.

Jun 18, 2014 rahul rated it really liked it
Shelves: gbbw, poetry
sometimes - Mary Oliver


Something came up
out of the dark.
It wasn’t anything I had ever seen before.
It wasn’t an animal
or a flower,
unless it was both.

Something came up out of the water,
a head the size of a cat
but muddy and without ears.
I don’t know what God is.
I don’t know what death is.

But I believe they have between them
some fervent and necessary arrangement.


melancholy leaves me breathless…


Water from the heavens! Electricity from the source!
Both of them mad to create something!

Roger DeBlanck
Apr 03, 2014 Roger DeBlanck rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
While rereading the lovely poems in Red Bird, I’m reminded once again why Mary Oliver is certainly one of the greatest American poets since Robert Frost. She is an inspiring and visionary poet who quests after the essential matters of the heart and soul. She is a sage in her understanding of sorrow and joy and of investigating what it means to be human. She is the quintessential poet in search of capturing the beauty and meaning of life, or more aptly how to understand her mortality in relation ...more
Aug 15, 2015 Caterina rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
These poems are intimate astonishments, wonders of tender love for the world closely observed and its interplay with spirit - especially a spirit of song, whether in sorrow or confusion in aging and death of a loved one, or in rejoicing for the beauty and providence of the day. Her poems delight me! I've been searching for good writing that is both serious and uplifting, life-embracing -- and -- among living authors -- I found Mary Oliver.

Not This, Not That seems to be Mary Oliver's own, earthl
Jane Glossil
Deeply moving.

The poems made me cry (and I've never really cried over poetry before), or perhaps I just really needed them. I'm so glad I picked up this collection at just the right time: the time for deepening and quieting the spirit; for opening your life and opening your hands; for melancholy leaving you breathless; for apologizing for ever speaking of yourself as lonely; and, everything else that a tender heart could ruminate.
Oct 11, 2012 T. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, favourites
My days have been difficult and dark of late. I don't know anything else but that deep space with no light; it's as if I have lived there always. This morning, I opened this book and found prayers for my life. I am not a deeply religious person but Mary Oliver's words have touched my soul deeply—they always have, anyway—and I thought, damn, there is nothing truer than this, right now: Sometimes / melancholy leaves me breathless. (Sometimes)

When she writes in Red Bird, "I know He has many childr
Jan 01, 2011 Lea rated it it was amazing
"it is a serious thing/just to be alive/on this fresh morning/in this broken world." Mary Oliver
Mar 24, 2017 Sara rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Every time I think I love Mary Oliver's poetry, I read another work of hers that only sends that admiration surging higher and deeper. RED BIRD isn't just a poetry collection about the beauty of nature. It's also about hope and gratitude, love and sadness, joy and renewal. It reminds us to take the time to observe our world, to think about our actions and the consequences they might have on place, flora, and fauna. At times it fiercely criticizes humanity for its focus on progress and its destru ...more
Jan 24, 2017 JeanAnn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: morning-coffee
We think this may be our all-time favorite Mary Oliver book (and then maybe we feel that way after each and everyone one we finish.)
I adore Mary Oliver, and I adore this book. While I may like individual poems in some of her other books better than any one poem in this book (as famous as it is, I still love "Wild Geese" with my whole heart, and I always will, this is my favorite book of hers. The entire collection reads like a book of prayers, and it is a beautifully centering, human and empathetic book. Here are just a few snippets:

From "Summer Morning"

Let the world
have its wa
Christina Wilder
Dec 30, 2013 Christina Wilder rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Mary Oliver is a gifted poet. Her use of imagery and self-reflection is powerful, even for those who aren't religious or inclined to love nature.

Death itself
is a music...

I would not
give my life for a thousand of yours.

- "Straight Talk from Fox"

I have dreamed
of accomplishment. I have fed
I have traded
nights of sleep

for a length of work.

- "The Orchard"

Oliver's wonder at the world around her is not confined to rose-colored optimism or faith; she shares her dark feelings willingly, and
Aug 04, 2016 Bobby rated it it was amazing
I do not currently have the tools to write a terribly insightful, objective review of a book of Mary Oliver's poetry as I wish that I did - perhaps I get closer to that with each volume I read? This I will say in an effort to get closer to that small goal: Mary Oliver's poems have a special ability to touch the soul, not only our own, but the soul of life, of every living thing and to illuminate our relationship to each other. In any form I have never encountered someone who understands and effe ...more
Jul 10, 2010 Terresa rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010
This collection represents quintessential Oliver.

She is in fine form here, notably in the poems, Invitation (p. 18), and Sometimes (p. 35). I noted twenty-five other exemplary poems, out of a collection of sixty-one.

When her words resonate, they sing. When they don't, they fall like flattened leaves.

I expected greatness in this collection and found goodness, with the exception of what I can only surmise are "filler" poems.

My only regret is that the filler poems exist at all, because, for me,
Mar 14, 2014 Kelly rated it really liked it
Summer Mornings

I implore you,
it’s time to come back
from the dark,

it’s morning,
the hill are pink
and the roses
whatever they felt

in the valley of night
are opening now
their soft dresses,
their leaves

are shining.
Why are you laggard?
Sure you have seen this
a thousand times,

which isn’t half enough.
Let the world
have its way with you,
luminous as it is

with mystery
and pain-
graced as it is
with the ordinary.
Apr 14, 2008 Sallie rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Virginnia Woods, Emma Rodewald
Shelves: salliesbookbox
I went to a reading of Mary Oliver's poems. She is wonderful of course. I didn't realize how funny she is...The book is lovely and great to keep on the night table for the occasional meditation.I have several of her books. She read 'Wild Geese' (I think that's the title)
I highly recommend reading this poem. It's an older poem and just beautiful. You can get it online
Jan 15, 2017 Mary rated it really liked it
Mary Oliver makes me begrudgingly realize that I should be grateful for everything around me, even on sad gray days. This book speaks to the part of me that is discovering how honesty is a form of prayer. "I will try" was the one that meant most to me.
 Barb Bailey
Apr 24, 2010 Barb Bailey rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, 5-star-books, 2012
Mary Oliver takes a very simple subjects and turns them into a works of art. I will be reading more of Oliver's poetry books. 5 Stars!
Todd Valade
Sep 28, 2014 Todd Valade rated it it was amazing
Let the world
have its way with you,
luminous as it is
with mystery
and pain—
graced as it is
with the ordinary.
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
"Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

Apr 28, 2013 Cheryl rated it liked it
This falls between Evidence and Thirst for me, with a more sober tone, less spiritual, less earth ecstatic. Oliver brings some politics in, and it more pessimistic than I expected.

In the poem, Empire: not a shred of positivity to be found, and it saddens me; if she, at the end of her life, the singer of the music of the body that responds to nature’s energy, the celebrator of nature’s wonders, can’t muster up a more utopian view of how we will be perceived in the fullness of time, who would? I
Feb 27, 2017 Pam rated it it was amazing
Love Mary Oliver's poetry and this volume was no exceptions. She speaks to my heart.
Tyas Puspo
Mar 01, 2017 Tyas Puspo rated it it was amazing
"where are you?

do you know that the heart has a dungeon?

bring light! bring light!"

Sep 23, 2016 Amy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Beautiful poems. I love Mary Oliver!
Christopher Rutenber
Oct 20, 2012 Christopher Rutenber rated it it was amazing
Shelves: top-10
Oliver uses a recurring theme of nature as expressed through the characters of the Red Bird and the Fox, her own reflection, and a dog named Percy. The thesis is a quote from Vincent Van Gogh, “To know God is to love many things.” The poem “Boundaries,” a personal favorite, says that there is this jump that can be made between where we are and home, among the stones and trees. This is the place where Oliver’s Red Bird and Fox sing. And these characters observe humans. The very next poem is “Stra ...more
Cynthia Egbert
Jul 27, 2015 Cynthia Egbert rated it really liked it
Shelves: library
I read, after I had completed this volume of poetry, that it contains the first love cycle in Ms. Oliver's repertoire. I didn't even pick up on that, I must really not have a romantic soul. But I did love these poems just as much as I have loved everything else I have read from her. I really thought that I only marked a couple of these as favourites, but in the end, I marked eight. I will share a few of the shorter ones because I truly love the way she uses words.

melancholy leaves me b
Jun 09, 2015 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mary Oliver's poetry is very easy to read, very accesible, and very relaxing. However at the same time she manages to install in the reader a desire to get out into the world and experience life, at its wonderful basic level. This volume centres around nature. You cannot fail to miss the awe in these poems at just how grateful and in love we should be with "our small and precious lives". There are religious undertones, but nothing too heavy or distracting. Oliver is very good at evoking sights a ...more
Oct 09, 2013 Tracy rated it really liked it
In order to read Red Bird, I had to open my mind. I have been hesitant about “nature poems” because some terrible teachers in high school instilled a deep aversion in me to “analyzing the trees.” I want to know about life!

Mary Oliver acknowledges grief, but focuses on the visions and sounds around her. The hard and soft language repeated has me whispering lines like “long, pink tongue” over and over. The musicality in the sequence of words adds to the liveliness of her subject.

Oliver writes abo
Apr 10, 2009 jo rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I loved this book. Definitely one of my favorite Mary Oliver collections. I was particularly struck by the poems in this book that concern words, and specifically, the writing of words. On one hand, Ms. Oliver ponders, words are everything. But on the other, they are nothing. She puts the image of herself, constantly finding beauty, joy, and anguish in writing and manipulating language, against the image of the red bird, the fox, the owl. In the natural world, of which she writes so much about, ...more
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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.

“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 observations of the na
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Love Sorrow

Love sorrow. She is yours now, and you must
take care of what has been
given. Brush her hair, help her
into her little coat, hold her hand,
especially when crossing a street. For, think,

what if you should lose her? Then you would be
sorrow yourself; her drawn face, her sleeplessness
would be yours. Take care, touch
her forehead that she feel herself not so

utterly alone. And smile, that she does not
altogether forget the world before the lesson.
Have patience in abundance. And do not
ever lie or ever leave her even for a moment

by herself, which is to say, possibly, again,
abandoned. She is strange, mute, difficult,
sometimes unmanageable but, remember, she is a child.
And amazing things can happen. And you may see,

as the two of you go
walking together in the morning light, how
little by little she relaxes; she looks about her;
she begins to grow.”
“it is a serious thing // just to be alive / on this fresh morning / in this broken world.” 185 likes
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