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Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver

4.60  ·  Rating details ·  6,537 ratings  ·  791 reviews
Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mary Oliver presents a personal selection of her best work in this definitive collection spanning more than five decades of her esteemed literary career.

Throughout her celebrated career, Mary Oliver has touched countless readers with her brilliantly crafted verse, expounding on her love for the physical world and the powerful bonds between all
Hardcover, 456 pages
Published October 10th 2017 by Penguin Press
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Average rating 4.60  · 
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 ·  6,537 ratings  ·  791 reviews

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Feb 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful collection of poetry from Mary Oliver. I finished it with a tear in my eye knowing there won't be anything more from her. She just passed away this year. There is something about her poetry that is comforting to me. I'm sorry she is gone.

It was very hard to pick a favorite poem from this book because there are so many I loved.
This one is still one of my favorites.

What Gorgeous Thing

I do not know what gorgeous thing
the bluebird keeps saying,
his voice easing out of his throat,
May 02, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
It gives me no pleasure to write honest negative reviews. Mary Oliver is a beloved American poet and her work does nothing for me.



"Ordinarily I go to the woods alone, with not a single friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore unsuitable. I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way of praying, as you no doubt have yours. Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit on the top of
Oct 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Mary is one of my constant companions. This book is one I will be reading today, tomorrow, the next day, the next year, and the next, because I will read it for the rest of my life. Thank you, Mary for giving my love of life and nature voice.
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: five-star-books
Sep 8, 2019

From New and Selected Poems: Volume Two (2005) by Mary Oliver

It has been six months since I last read Mary Oliver’s poems. This past week as the weight of work bore down on me, I sought refuge in her verse, and read a couple each evening.

In an extraction of eleven poems from her collection of new poems from 2005, Oliver bade us pay attention to the natural world in every season. As she contemplated her role as a poet, she took inspiration from the ease with which nature eloquently de
I pre-ordered Devotions without looking at the description, because Mary Oliver! I didn't realize it's a collection of previously published work. I own all of her ebooks, so much of the content isn't new to me. It is very nice to have selected poems from books not available as ebooks and those that are out of print: What Do We Know, The Leaf And The Cloud, White Pine, American Primitive, Twelve Moons, The River Styx, Ohio, and No Voyage.

For those with a Mary Oliver collection, here's what's inc
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nature, love, poetry
I am aware of the criticisms of Mary Oliver’s work. She wrote about perhaps uncool things like God and the natural world and has been called “earnest” amongst other patronizing things. I believe that the critics are missing the core of her work which comes from an embodied sense of the ecstatic connection to all things. That we are not indeed truly separate but appear so in manifest form. This is not a cerebral concept, it is a felt sense in the body and Oliver’s poetry is drenched in this but w ...more
Ali Nuri
Aug 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, favorites

Devotions provides a fitting culmination of her life philosophy, her core tenets bound together in one vulnerable place. Ultimately, her work divulges with astute observation the crux of what we are: at once human and animal, at once selfish and full of gratitude, at once perfect and profoundly flawed. The paradoxical balancing act between shameless desire and overwhelming selflessness is deftly traversed through her lush turns of phrase:

For one thing leads to another.
Soon you will notice how st
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was ok
With Mary Oliver's recent passing, I wanted to read her selected poems in order to see why she was so popular and also to find enjoyment in them as well. My first advice for this book and other selected or collected poems of poets is to read them starting with the early books and moving forward from there. You will see how the poet develops.

I cannot give these poems any accolades for their craft or uniqueness. They reminded me of the old Swanson TV dinners in foil trays: uniformly prepared and o
May 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
attention is the beginning of devotion attention is the beginning of devotion!!!!!!!!
Dec 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Uff da. I should just own all of Oliver's smaller books... this is heavy as being so many pages and so encompassing. But thanks to a generous library I'm simply renewing it over & over and I will finish soon!

It's very interesting in that it works backwards in time. The first poems are the very most accessible, as she's honed her craft and focused on her theme. Even those readers who are just barely ready for more than Shel Silverstein can enjoy these. Later in the book, as we approach her at a y
Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Mary Oliver Speaks to Me

Her solo is a spare song,
Sung in that way of pure unaccompanied human voice
That is raw honesty.

I love how the first note of each poem
Pierces the white page,
And humbles me with Love
Of this world
That only moments before
I had forgotten.

Backwards through a life of figuring out
With words....

Sing on beautiful bird!
And thank you
For letting me live in your world for a few hours,
All I need
And my reading glasses.
Annie Monson
Apr 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020, poetry
These poems feel like exhaling, when you didn’t realize you were holding your breath.
Jennifer Tam
Jul 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely stunning
Annalise Nakoneczny
May 31, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2021
Some books are more than books, but are also companions. This is one such book.
Sep 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: environment
Devotions - Mary Oliver

In a selection of poems like those in this book, covering over fifty years of poetry, a lot of the poems’ overall context is missing.

I consider Oliver’s ‘American Primitive’ one of my favorite poetry books but even so the handful of selections included here from that book have lost some of the magic as stand alone poems.

Poems I liked singularly.

1. Blueberries

2. Percy (One) - about her dog who ate the book of Bhagavad Gita

3. Her grave - about her dog and the animals nearb
May 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?" ...more
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recent-reads
I did it! I completed the collection. The poems are listed in reverse order with the most recent poems first and the earliest poems last. This is an interesting way to take in the work of Mary Oliver. The poems are all related to nature in some manner, but I feel the earlier poems are more abstract.

I’m so glad I bought myself this book. I have so many lines underlined. I loved it.
Jul 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I feel totally connected with Mary Olivers images;
nature, trees, insects, spirituality, joy.
Just wonderful and enlightening.
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Perhaps the most peaceful thing I have ever read.
Dec 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, favorites, 2020
Someday, in the new earth, I would like to go for a walk with Mary Oliver and see, with our sanctified eyes, more beauty than we ever thought possible.
Harry Allagree
Dec 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This lovely book of poems spans 52 years, from 1963-2015. I have a number of "favorite" poets, among them T. S. Eliot, George Herbert, Emily Dickinson. But as I've come to read more of her work over the past 15 years, Mary Oliver has indeed captured my heart. As I read this book, it occurred to me that though her fundamental stance on life & the world has remained essentially the same, her way of expressing that reality has matured, grown in simplicity but also in perception & depth of meaning. ...more
May 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: tender
this held a lot of poems i am familiar with as it is a selection from previous publications, but reading them again with the eyes of someone who has now been sitting with mary oliver a few hours a week was an enitrely new experience. felt something in me swell and grow as i read "the dream of my life/is to lie down by a slow river/and stare at the light in the trees/to learn something from being nothing" ...more
Laura Hoffman Brauman
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Mary Oliver's poems are always gorgeous -- her nature imagery and ability to call out the small, exquisite moments from the wilderness is perfect. I wish, though, that the collection had been put in chronological order instead of reverse chronological -- I would have rather enjoyed seeing how her work evolved as I dipped in and out of the collection. ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Mary Oliver covers it all in her poems---life and death, pain and joy, loss and gain, sacrifice and gift, simplicity and complexity, the human amid nature...everything. She's somehow brilliant without ever seeming to put out any effort toward becoming so. Her poems are some of the wisest poems I've ever read.

Feb 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
A wonderful collection - absolutely beautiful from start to finish.
Jul 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
what else is there but to close yet another book of mary oliver's poetry, lie down in bed, and stare at the ceiling ...more
I finished this today.

I understand that these are Oliver's personal selections for anthology from a lifetime of writing poetry. Presented in reverse chronological order (newer poems first), I definitely preferred the newer, beginning poems to the older ones at the end. In fact, my favorite was the very first in the book. I've returned to it a number of times over the last year.

I'm sure there's a great deal here that a re-read would improve, but I think I'll save that for another time. I just re
Jul 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I started reading this book alongside The Way of the Heart (unintentionally) where Nouwen discusses the need to quiet our hearts. These poems provided me a practical path to quieting my heart and in doing so allowed me to see more and hear better. Will return to them again and again!
David J
Review to come.
May 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
no words!!!!! beautiful beautiful beautiful. i really liked the way it was ordered reverse chronologically (most recent poems first, first poems last) - it was so interesting to see how her voice changed over the years. highly recommended
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Goodreads Librari...: Please add original date published 3 12 Oct 25, 2017 11:20PM  

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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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