Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Long Life: Essays and Other Writings” as Want to Read:
Long Life: Essays and Other Writings
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Long Life: Essays and Other Writings

4.26  ·  Rating Details ·  586 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
A dazzling new collection of essays, poems, and prose poems by the best-selling author of "The Leaf and the Cloud" and "What Do We Know."
ebook, 120 pages
Published May 14th 2014 by Da Capo Press (first published 2004)
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 Long Life, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Long Life

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

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
caitlin
Jun 12, 2017 caitlin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
reading mary oliver feels like taking a deep breath or, i don't know, drinking a big glass of icy cold water when you're really thirsty. what a lovely lovely green peaceful book of thoughtful nature writing. adjectives!
Lauren
Jun 18, 2009 Lauren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I cherish Mary Oliver for many reasons. She can brighten even the most dreary, wet subway rides home. Her observations and the elegant way she articulates them manages to lift me from my daily frustrations and shakes me to remember the simple beauty right in front of me. Even when my socks are wet and it's a long subway ride home and there is someone creepy sitting next to me.

The last section of this book is so beautiful that I had to read it aloud. I forgot what a wonderful experience it is to
...more
Kristina
May 07, 2014 Kristina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the foreword Oliver writes, "I would rather write poems than prose..." I would rather READ poems than prose. Yet Oliver's prose always seems more like a pleasant conversation than anything else. This book is just that- a wonderful conversation with the author; and the poems interspersed are so enjoyable to "stumble" upon after reading the prose.
Lauren Davis
Jan 20, 2015 Lauren Davis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mary Oliver is one of my favorite poets, indeed, one of my favorite writers. Her curious, sharp intellect, her love-affair with the natural world and her devotion, combine to create unforgettable, breathtaking works.

This collection of essays, is both more and less than that. There are essays, yes, but also poems. Her prose is as lucid and luminous as her poetry. In the first two sections of this collection she writes of tides and grasses, of herons and plovers and small white dogs, of kelp and t
...more
Elizabeth Brookbank
It took me 3 months to read this slim volume because each time I finished a page I would want to go back and re-read it because it was so good. I love Mary Oliver's poetry, and her prose is almost as beautiful. I'll be returning to this one again and again.
Susan
Jan 06, 2013 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This collection of 14 short essays, 10 poems and some other writings makes me wish that Mary Oliver (wonderful poet that she is) would write more prose. Insightful, rich in detail, and celebratory, her essays address nature, landscape, Emerson, Hawthorne, the disappearance of the town dump, life and writing in wonderful sentences.

"Poe claimed he could hear the night darkness as it poured, in the evening, into the world. I remember this now and think, reversing the hour but not the idea, that I
...more
Alison
Feb 26, 2017 Alison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not all poets can write prose. Mary Oliver can. Not all poets see the natural world and can name it down to the exact genus or paint it with a broad brush of light. Mary Oliver can.

A modern transcendentalist in her all glory.
Zinta
Jan 05, 2008 Zinta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Like a gentle warning, one we will not heed, Mary Oliver states in her foreword that she prefers writing poetry to prose, but each has its own pleasures and manner of expression - "different paces of heartbeat." Anyone who has dabbled in both types of word-art knows how true this is; and we are grateful that Oliver is willing to adjust her heart rhythm so that our appreciative hearts may beat a little differently, too.

"Long Life: Essays and Other Writings" is a slim collection of prose and thos
...more
Callie
Sep 26, 2013 Callie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mary Oliver is one of my favorite poets. This is a slender book, too slender, in my opinion, because I could drink her words every day of my life and still thirst for more. I read half of it in one sitting (one lying-down, if I'm going to be accurate) and in that brief span, I wept three separate times. What kind of writer is this? If I were a seventy year old lesbian, I would go and find her and try to make her fall in love with me so that I could live in her cottage by the sea and converse wit ...more
Marnie
Oct 25, 2016 Marnie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Once again, Mary Oliver offers a look at the world from a new, refreshing perspective. I didn't realize when I read this lovely collection that it would coincide with a trip I took to Concord, MA to visit the homes of Emerson, Alcott and Hawthorne. Oliver paints a portrait of 17th century New England through the homes of Emerson and Hawthorne in three essays. We visit Emerson's home, The Old Manse, also the subject of a story by Hawthorne, who lived here as a newlywed with his beloved bride, Sop ...more
Pascale
Sep 18, 2013 Pascale rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I very much enjoyed “Long Life,” a compilation of (poetic) essays by Mary Oliver. Of particular interest, the great (poetic) essays about Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne caught my attention. These texts were informative and intriguing enough to make me consider checking out some of these authors’ books from the library, since I am not familiar with 19th century American literature aside from Edgar Alan Poe.

I liked two poems from Mary Oliver’s book “Long Life”: the poem about the aut
...more
Scribd
Sep 09, 2015 Scribd rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: friday-reads
Mary Oliver makes me want to cry, but not for the typical reasons. And it might be the same for you, too—if you’re the type to find solace in nature, if you like to linger in the sun’s last light, or stretch your toes in the sand. Oliver’s Long Life: Essays and Other Writings reminds you to do this, and understand everything else that matters. She’ll get under your skin with her essays that read like poems and her authentic meditations on life. Oliver has a way of finding the entire universe in ...more
Barbara
Nov 28, 2014 Barbara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Of all the books that I read and review, I approach Mary Oliver's with the most humility and respect. I feel that there are no words to express the beauty and spirituality of her writing. All of Oliver's books have the ability to transport and transform. Her intimate connection with the immediate natural world around her resonates strongly with me. As I sat reading in my bed at night, Long Life: Essays and Other Writings took me back to a childhood of being outdoors on an island in Michigan. Her ...more
Lynn Kearney
Feb 10, 2017 Lynn Kearney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The eloquence we've come to expect from Mary Oliver on full display in this slim book.
Gwyneth Stewart
Mar 03, 2013 Gwyneth Stewart rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this collection of mostly essays, and a some poems, by Mary Oliver. She covers topics ranging from what it means to be in relationship with someone very different from you, the pluses and minuses of habit, and what it takes to develop an intimate relationship with the landscape within which you live. Throughout it all, what it comes down to for her is paying attention to the details, the little things that happen every day that most people don't notice. And deciding, simply, every day, to ...more
Mboconnor31
Feb 21, 2016 Mboconnor31 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
On New Year's Day 2015, I was browsing my favorite bookstore in Hudson, New York, The Spotted Dog, a former firehouse that serves coffee or beer, when I discovered the prolific poet Mary Oliver. I decided to buy this book because it seemed akin to a memoir. This way I could learn more about what makes the author tick. It was a wise choice, as I was taken away into Mary Oliver's world filled with her daily rituals, like walking her dog in the woods along the New England coast where she lives with ...more
Sherri
I was lead to this book by two people. Singer/songwriter Drew Nelson talked about her poetry as being most influential on his song writing, and shortly after he told me that, my goodreads friend, Karen Cruze, gave this book 5 stars. Thanks!

I loved it and found it very thought-provoking. I have two favorite parts: the last paragraph of the essay "Flow," and the whole Ralph Waldo Emerson essay. Both contain inspiring ideas that I needed to be reminded of. Also great are the essay on dogs, and the
...more
Jessica
"Poets must read and study, but also they must learn to tilt and whisper, shout, or dance, each in his or her own way, or we might just as well copy the old books. But, no, that would never do, for always the new self swimming around in the old world feels itself uniquely verbal. And that is just the point: how the world, moist and bountiful, calls to each of us to make a new and serious response. That's the big question, the one the world throws at you every morning. 'Here you are, alive. Would ...more
Linda Kenny
Oct 21, 2015 Linda Kenny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just finished an on line course on William Wordsworth poetry. We learned and discussed how important the sense of "place" meant to him and how it figured into his poetry. Oliver includes an essay about Wordsworth referring to a poem we studied. My long point is that for both poets the locale or place they lived is a key focus of their work. It was a learning experience for me when I read Oliver's essay and connected it back to my course.
Lynnnadeau
I am reading this for my book group - which always makes me stretch in terms of my choices. Mary Oliver is a close observer of nature and is a poet. Neither very comfortable for me but I am working on it. Here is a sample of her thoughts that I like very much:"What does it mean that the earth is so beautiful? And what shall I do about it? What is the gift that I should bring to the world? What is the life I should live?"
Victoria Slotto
May 10, 2013 Victoria Slotto rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those books I turn to for inspiration. It will remain active on my Kindle for those moments when I need a little jump start in my own writing. It's a peek into Oliver's beautiful mind with entries ranging from poetry, narrative poetry, analyses of other writers, reflections, snapshots of her life...it's like a sacred book that followers open at random to be inspired. Especially recommended for poets, writers and those who can't get enough of Mary Oliver.
Sher
May 22, 2013 Sher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mary Oliver is, perhaps, best known for her poetry, and this book is mostly essays. But, I prefer essay form, so this book really suited me. Oliver reflects on the natural world in a way that often turns the universal from the ordinary. Two essays here cover great writers: Emerson and Hawthorne, and she has some wonderful pieces devoted to her dogs. A fine, varied collection that I found quite inspirational; I plan on giving the book to good friend who is also a writer.
Joyful Grapes
Oct 20, 2016 Joyful Grapes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Generous and beautiful. Mary Oliver has a gentle and wondrous voice...

"I walk in the world to love it." (pg40)

"We may be touched by the most powerful of suppositions--even to a certainty--as we stand in the rose petals of the sun and hear a murmur from the wind no louder than the sound it makes as it dozes under the bee's wings. This, too, I suggest, is the weather, and worthy of report." (34)
Molly
Jul 09, 2016 Molly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Even though Mary Oliver "would rather write poems than prose, any day, any place," her essays and musings are just as lovely and meditative as her poetry. In addition to the poems on summer, I especially loved her piece on place, "Where I Live," in which she describes her love for Provincetown, MA, despite its not being on the Wonders of the World list and the ways tourism has affected it over the decades she's lived there.
Katlyn
Feb 26, 2013 Katlyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps I've been reading too much of Oliver lately, because it is becoming difficult to distinguish each piece. The book is, as usual, beautiful and contemplative. I had my gasping moments too, when reading the poem about summer break. She finds ways to so perfectly describe complex feelings. I didn't find her prose as interesting, but I like the way she sections her work into variations on a theme.
Maughn Gregory
"What does it mean, say the words, that the earth is so beautiful? And what shall I do about it? What is the gift that I should bring to the world? What is the life that I should live?" (9)

This book contains Oliver's most direct statements about the relationship between the practice of paying close attention to wilderness and the virtuous, joyful life.
Rachel
Mar 12, 2008 Rachel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, essays
Charming. I actually like Mary Oliver's essays more than her poetry, so this was a good match for me. My favorite essay is the one about her dogs... I think she and Temple Grandin would have a lot to talk about.
Lani M
Jan 30, 2017 Lani M rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"What does it mean, say the words, that the earth is so beautiful? And what shall I do about it? What is the gift that I should bring to the world? What is the life that I should live?"

"The touch of our separate excitements is another of the gifts of our life together."
Luann
May 06, 2013 Luann rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
My favorite pieces were on the role of habit in our lives, Emerson, Hawthorne and dogs. I can only read so much about the natural world before my eyes start to glaze over, but that's my issue, not Mary's. Nice collection of prose and poetry.
Tina curiel
Mar 14, 2011 Tina curiel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
if possible, i enjoy oliver's prose even more than her poetry. it is insightful, whimsical, and moving.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Sisters of the Earth: Women's Prose and Poetry About Nature
  • Given Sugar, Given Salt
  • Pilgrim
  • The Insistence of Beauty
  • Given
  • Your Native Land, Your Life
  • Braided Creek
  • The Kingdom of Ordinary Time: Poems
  • On Poetry And Poets
  • The Collected Poems, 1952-1990
  • Dawn Light: Dancing with Cranes and Other Ways to Start the Day
  • Ten Poems to Change Your Life
  • The Number: What Do You Need for the Rest of Your Life and What Will It Cost?
  • Earth House Hold
  • Alive Together
  • The Poetry Home Repair Manual: Practical Advice for Beginning Poets
  • Aging Well: Surprising Guideposts to a Happier Life from the Landmark Harvard Study of Adult Development
  • The Big Shift: Navigating the New Stage Beyond Midlife
23988
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
...more
More about Mary Oliver...

Share This Book



“You too can be carved anew by the details of your devotion.” 13 likes
“This is to say nothing against afternoons, evenings or even midnight. Each has its portion of the spectacular. But dawn — dawn is a gift. Much is revealed about a person about his or her passion, or indifference, to this opening of the door of day. No one who loves dawn, and is abroad to see it, could be a stranger to me.” 10 likes
More quotes…