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West Wind

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  1,260 ratings  ·  145 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 In this stunning collection of forty poems - nineteen previously unpublished - she writes of nature and love, of the way they transform over time.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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Average rating 4.21  · 
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 ·  1,260 ratings  ·  145 reviews


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Edita
Feb 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mary-oliver, poetry
[...] 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
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
H.A. Leuschel
May 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a short book of poems and prose poems by Oliver and as always, her writing is tender, sensitive and experimental without ever being obscure!
lizzie
Jul 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
"Language is, in other words, not necessary, but voluntary. If it were necessary, it would have stayed simple; it would not agitate our hearts with ever-present loveliness and ever-cresting ambiguity; it would not dream, on its long white bones, of turning into song."

Making my way through her work! Beautiful as always
...more
Melanie
Aug 10, 2013 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
gash
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
miss mary oliver it is sunday and i live by your words. thank you for making me pay attention, for opening my eyes to the world with each poem. outside the sky has taken the color of gold while the pink clouds quietly float around, i open the window to listen to the wind, to the earth existing.
Rachel
Apr 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, lgbtqia
"Language is, in other words, not necessary, but voluntary. If it were necessary, it would have stayed simple; it would not agitate our hearts with ever-present loveliness and ever-cresting ambiguity; it would not dream, on it's long white bones, of turning into song."

This book was my first introduction to Mary Oliver, in college many years ago, in a class on the literature of mindfulness. I remember being in awe of her then. That hasn't changed. Revisiting this now was a wonderful experience. T
...more
muthuvel
Aug 28, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, short
"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!

***

Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?

While the soul, after all, is only a window, and the opening of the window no more difficult than the wakening from a little sleep."
...more
Peycho Kanev
Nov 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
The Dog Has Run Off Again

and I should start shouting his name
and clapping my hands,
but it has been raining all night
and the narrow creek has risen
is a tawny turbulence is rushing along
over the mossy stones
is surging forward
with a sweet loopy music
and therefore I don't want to entangle it
with my own voice
calling summoning
my little dog to hurry back
look the sunlight and the shadows are chasing each other
listen how the wind swirls and leaps and dives up and down
who am I to summon his hard and happy
...more
Melanie
Jan 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Another re-read. She is just good.
Stefanie
May 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Beautiful poetry with much to ponder. Oliver here has a number of poems about the role of a poet in turning a lived experience into words and how poetry both succeeds and fails at capturing life.
oumaima
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: tender
thank you mary oliver for widening my world with every word and poem! this was as beautiful and moving as expected and i cried reading "stars" and felt very small ...more
Matt
Mar 19, 2013 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.]
...more
Kim
Jan 13, 2008 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. ...more
Alex
I liked most of the poems, but some of them just got too confusing for me, especially near the end.
Bree
Dec 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 50-20, poetry
Why, oh why haven't I read Mary Oliver before now? This, and more of her books, will be added to my permanent library. ...more
Liz
Feb 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Best quote: Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life? -MaryOliver
Kim Zarins
Feb 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Lovely book. So thankful my local public librarian set it out where I could find it. Sublime nature, the golden hearts of dogs, our need to be in the natural world and lose ourselves in it, the poems do all this in flawless language that draws no attention to itself but feels inevitable and right. How did Oliver know that the hawk rises on her masculine wings? Or the bud unfurls like a complex thought? She openly talks about having a desk and sitting at it, which makes her someone like us, excep ...more
Stella Wenny
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
I just love how Mary Oliver writes about trying to find your soul in the nature. The way she writes about nature is just pure beauty, like you can feel like you're laying in the grass, feeling the breeze, only by reading her poems.

"Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?

While the soul, after all, is only a window,
and the opening of the window no more difficult
than the wakening from a little sleep."
...more
tee
Jan 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, 2020
to quote the book itself, 'i love this poet, which means nothing here or there, but is like a garden in my heart,' - thank you miss oliver, i now lie on the grass as though i were the grass. ...more
leonie
Feb 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: e-books, poetry, 2020
this was so beautiful!! the format was very unique and i felt so comforted by all the mentions of nature in poetry
Ahona Das
Feb 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Most often, when I read a good book, I'm empty of words. This is one of those books. I'm stumped. ...more
Eliana
Sep 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020, poetry
I absolutely adored this collection. My heart is full.
Moa Rantala
Feb 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
"If there is life after the earth-life, will you come with me? Even then? Since we're bound to be something, why not together." ...more
Puri Kencana Putri
Mar 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life? While the soul, after all, is only a window, and the opening of the window no more difficult than the wakening from a little sleep," (Oliver, 1997. P. 101). ...more
Ashleigh
Apr 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Listen! Are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life? Well, there is time left--fields everywhere invite you into them." Joy and ache and wonder in one slim volume of words. ...more
Alarie
Jul 09, 2016 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 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
...more
Gloria
Apr 13, 2011 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. ...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
...more

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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.”
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“Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?” 20 likes
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