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West Wind

4.23  ·  Rating Details ·  628 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
The New York Times has called Mary Oliver's poems "thoroughly convincing - as genuine, moving, and implausible as the first caressing breeze of spring." In this stunning collection of forty poems - nineteen previously unpublished - she writes of nature and love, of the way they transform over time. And the way they remain constant. And what did you think love would be like ...more
Paperback, 80 pages
Published April 7th 1998 by Mariner Books (first published 1997)
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(showing 1-30)
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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
Aug 11, 2013 Melanie rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 13, 2008 Kim rated it it was amazing
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.
Liz
Feb 24, 2015 Liz rated it really liked it
Best quote: Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life? -MaryOliver
Alarie
Jul 09, 2016 Alarie rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
I usually love Mary Oliver’s poems and gave American Primitive five stars. This collection didn’t engage me as much. For one thing, I’m not a big fan of prose poems (there were several). For another, instead of letting nature pull us through the poems, Oliver repeatedly goes off into ars poetica, reminding us she’s going home to write the poem. Duh! The result is self-conscious writing that takes us out of the woods, where I want to stay.

Nevertheless, there are several poems that impressed me.
...more
Joan
Feb 17, 2009 Joan rated it really liked it
..."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
Gloria
Apr 19, 2011 Gloria rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
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.
Matt
Mar 19, 2013 Matt rated it liked it
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.]
Ruby Hopkins
Oct 19, 2011 Ruby Hopkins rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 21, 2009 D. Ryan rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
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
Sep 14, 2010 Melanie Faith rated it really liked it
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! :)
Eliza T. Williamson
May 13, 2008 Eliza T. Williamson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
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
Feb 11, 2008 Jillian rated it really liked it
Again: Mary Oliver has restructured my world view. I especially enjoyed and was wounded by her prose poetry in this volume.
Carolyn
Apr 16, 2008 Carolyn rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 29, 2011 Tommy Butler rated it it was amazing
"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.
Nori
Jan 25, 2016 Nori rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant

Evocative, thrilling, loving, yearning, truth-telling. (Saint) Mary Oliver does what she always does: reminds us of what is important and what is worth our attention.
Ariel
Jan 26, 2008 Ariel rated it it was amazing
what made me start reading poetry in high school
Dan
Sep 06, 2008 Dan rated it it was amazing  ·  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.
Randy Rasa
Jan 13, 2017 Randy Rasa rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Not all of the poems in this collection resonate with me, but the ones that hit me, for at least a few lines, burn really hot and deep.

There is time left - fields everywhere invite you into them.
And who will care, who will chide you if you wander away from wherever you are, to look for your soul?
Quickly, then, get up, put on your coat, leave your desk!

Chris
Nov 07, 2016 Chris rated it liked it
There are some interesting concepts in this book of poetry. Those that love poetry will find it a very good read.
Jeimy
Jan 14, 2017 Jeimy rated it really liked it
Mary Oliver is my spirit poet. I see my thoughts and opinions about nature, love, and spirituality reflected in her poetry time and time again.
Rachel
Oct 18, 2016 Rachel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I love everything Mary Oliver writes.
Rebecca
Mary Oliver is one of my favorite poets. This collection of poems and prose is really short but such a pleasure to read. I love her poetry because there is a simplicity and gracefulness to her writing. Even better, her poetry and themes are accessible and you don't need to do homework to understand them. But my favorite thing about her poems is the sense of simple wonder and awe and humility at nature. I love to soak up this feeling (which is almost a form of spirituality with the way Oliver wri ...more
Cynthia Egbert
Apr 16, 2016 Cynthia Egbert rated it liked it
Shelves: library
I have loved other collections better than this one but she still captures my heart. I will pass along a few of my favourite pieces.

Black Oaks

Okay, not one can write a symphony, or a dictionary,
or even a letter to an old friend, full of remembrance
and comfort.

Not one can manage a single sound though the blue jays
carp and whistle all day in the branches, without
the push of the wind.

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

and you can't
...more
Dan Gobble
Sep 27, 2015 Dan Gobble rated it really liked it
One of my favorite poets. This collection has some very memorable poems, but the one near the end from which the book gets its title, "West Wind", was the one which had lines in it which really resonated with me:
from "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 litt
...more
Cheryl
Dec 15, 2013 Cheryl rated it really liked it
...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
Jul 10, 2013 Sienna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, 2013, poetry
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
Feb 07, 2013 Kerri Stebbins rated it really liked it
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
Amey
Jan 18, 2013 Amey rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
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
metaphor
Apr 03, 2015 metaphor rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, mary-oliver
[...] 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
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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
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“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.”
17 likes
“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.” 14 likes
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