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New and Selected Poems

4.52  ·  Rating details ·  896 ratings  ·  85 reviews
As Diane Wakoski has noted, the power of Mary Oliver's Frost-influenced pastoral writing is in her ability to cast a spell, to create "the illusion that the natural world is graspable." Oliver's fierce independence, beautiful imagery, and love and knowledge of the natural world are all driven by a searching mind, expressed in poems that make for good company. In Some ...more
Paperback, 255 pages
Published July 1st 1993 by Beacon Press (MA)
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Average rating 4.52  · 
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 ·  896 ratings  ·  85 reviews

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Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'm on a personal poetic sojourn. I used to love reading poetry until working in the banking world dulled my soul. I have started reading it again and trying different poets. I enjoyed New and Selected Poems but I liked the Edna St. Vincent Millay collection that I read even more. I start each day with God, poetry and a book of meditations. What a wonderful way to ease into the day. A common muse for all poets is found in nature both the beauty and the ugly. New and Selected Poems is my latest ...more
Feb 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Every poem in here is perfection, but my favorites are , of course, "Morning Poem" and "Wild Geese." Here's "Wild Geese":
"You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the
Geoffrey Gioja
Jun 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who loves poetry and who can connect with the pre-postmodern sensibilities
Recommended to Geoffrey by: David Whyte
Shelves: mary-oliver, poetry
This was my first book of poetry by Mary Oliver - who has grown to be among my most very favorite poets. Some classics in this collection (most of which are from previously published collections going back to American Primitive) - and each of these has stood up to the test of multiple readings over decades of reading poetry - are:
• When Death Comes
• Rice
• Hummingbird Pauses at Trumpet Vine
• The Buddha's Last Instruction
• The Swan
• The Summer Day
• Maybe (perhaps my most favorite poem about
Cathy Larkin
Feb 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Poets, poetry lovers, nature lovers
Recommended to Cathy by: John Larkin
My brother gave me this book, not knowing that I met Mary Oliver's poems many years before. Some of her poems build toward such a strong last line, that they are still with me today, many years later.

From "The Summer Day": "...Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?"

Although I reread her books periodically, when I come upon certain poems, it's like meeting an old friend with whom you can pick up the conversation again, seemingly right were you left off years
Apr 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
for the right person, Oliver delivers an emotional and metaphoric experience that can bring comfort and challenge all at once.

i've used Oliver in my artwork for many years. i have not stopped loving her way of ending a piece with an aphoristic flourish - there is something sonnet-like about it that really works in a meditative/inspirational way. she IS accessible. that is the best of it - and it is also the definition of her limits, if limits are important.

any poem that begins "you do not have
Feb 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
4 stars. Too bad this was a library book, as these are poems that deserve to be read again and again. Many of them are deceptively simple. I also liked the layout of many of the poems on the page -- something generally not found in online versions of poetry. ...more
Laurie Buchanan
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is quite possibly my fourth reading of this book of poems. They don't get old. Rather, it's like meeting up with dear friends for a delightful catch-up visit.
Marika Gillis
My father gave me a copy of this collection of poetry for my birthday in the year 2000. Eighteen years later, I finally finished reading it. The reason this book took me so long to finish is not because I did not like it. I loved it. It's just that, for me, Mary Oliver's poems need to percolate so I cannot ingest a whole bunch of the poems in one sitting. I would read a handful of poems and then would need to sit with them for awhile before tackling more. Mary Oliver is one of my favorite poets ...more
May 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2016
A beautiful collection of poems. Mary Oliver's poetry has depth, breadth, and a whispered sort of beauty. They force your eyes open to behold, to gaze, to wonder. This is life. Live it. Though each poem is a laude to life, entwined in each is a serenade to mortality, to the fleeting nature of life, and how it is all the more precious and lovely for it.
Jul 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oliver follows in the footsteps of Emily Dickinson, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoraeu. She writes about nature using simple yet powerful images. She exposes the wonder of the natural world for us and invites us to explore it ourselves.
Michele White
Dec 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful, nourishing poetry full of moments from nature that invite pause, reflection and enjoyment.
Nov 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The great Mary Oliver - such simplicity, such beauty, such richness. She makes every word count, and I am immersed into a different, natural world when I read her poetry. This collection has some of her best-known and most beautiful poems, like "Wild Geese," "The Journey," "Vultures," "The Kingfisher," among so many others.

This collection is from 1992, and I have many of her later collections in my library as well. Mary Oliver is my go-to poet when I need to restore my soul, my sense of wonder,
Dec 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nature
It's hard for me to sit down and read poems properly (slowly, thoughtfully, iteratively), but fortunately I've often been in a state of mind lately where I can do so. No one needs me to tell them about Mary Oliver - I finally dove into this book after several speakers at several different events referenced her - but yeah, she's pretty great. This book covers several decades of her work, and as much as I don't consider myself a nature poetry aficionado, her stuff just works. Both as observations ...more
Sara Gray
Mar 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
I used to chuckle over Mary Oliver always being chosen as poems to be shared at the end of new age/Shambhala buddhist events...but now that I've read a more-or-less "greatest hits" of her poetry, I stand in awe. She manages to capture with startling clarity moments of the natural world that encompass death, life, and everything in between. But, like most poems, read just one or two at a time--otherwise, you (like me) won't help but wonder, "Damn, this lady is really obsessed with owls."
Diana Green
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Mary Oliver is truly brilliant and without doubt my favorite poet. Her incredible gift with language, combined with her deep connection to the natural world, and her sharp insight into the condition of being human, all make for a breathtaking experience reading her work. There are poems of Mary Oliver's that strike to my core, every time I encounter them.
Feb 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
A few favorites: farm country, anne, aunt Elsie’s night music, when death comes.

May 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"....When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms..."

-"When Death Comes" by Mary Oliver
Patrick Bello
Sep 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
She soaks you deep and long in the bathwater of life, and you are grateful to have shared the experience
Rebecca Trotter
Sep 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
definitely one of my favorite books of poetry.
Nov 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Dems good poems! For real! If you like good poetry and nature then this is for you.
Diana Cramer
May 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Really wonderful poems. Mary Oliver is the nearest we have to a modern-day Frost. Recommended.
Laurel Kathleen
Dec 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Lovely nature imagery mixed with some heavy existential questions.
Aug 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
I'm glad I read a collection of Mary Oliver poems. Many of them were beautiful, powerful, moving.
Linda DiMeo Lowman
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nature, poetry
Breathtaking and transformative.
Jan 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"
Jul 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book was given to me as a gift from an old English teacher with whom I had a tenuous connection. His inscription contained references to Oliver's ability to capture the pastoral with an uncanny clarity. The obvious connections to the literary traditions invoked by authors like Thoreau and Muir don't really do this book justice. Oliver writes with an uncommon ability to skewer the heart of the subject at hand and was able to do so from an early stage in her writing career.

As evidence, one of
Andy Zell
Jul 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
New and Selected Poems (1992) by Mary Oliver is a solid selection of poems from the early career of a great poet. I picked up this collection years ago because a friend of mine told me he really liked Oliver’s poetry, but it languished on my shelf. More recently, someone shared “Wild Geese” on Facebook and I realized I had to read more of her poetry after coming across lines like “Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. / Meanwhile the world goes on.” I discovered many more poems ...more
Oct 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The poem Wild Geese, found in this collection, sustains me. I have memorized the first portion of the poem in order to draw upon the compassion offered there in dark moments. It begins with an elegant description of a kind relationship with oneself and opens out into an expression of grand sweeping interconnectedness. This progression is crucial. Interconnectedness becomes more subtly experienced once a gentle relationship with the self is realized. This poem puts the heart at the center of the ...more
David Anthony Sam
"Sometimes the great bones of my life feel so heavy, and all the tricks my body knows— the opposable thumbs, the kneecaps, and the mind clicking and clicking— don’t seem enough to carry me through this world and I think: how I would like to have wings"

So writes Mary Oliver in one of the first poems of this collection---and throughout she exposes her confrontation with mortality and her and our earthbound nature.

Selected in reverse chronological order, the poems show the growth of the poet over
Jan 10, 2008 rated it liked it
Why do I distrust nature poets so? Ah well, nevertheless I do. I can say Mary Oliver is exceptionally approachable, and I would recommend this book for anyone who wants to try poetry reading. She has some wonderful turns of phrase; and she's certainly not a self-worshiping poet (which some have the tendency to be). The thing is, and she isn't even prone to this fallacy that much, however much I think nature should be protected and enjoyed, I always get suspicious of Americans who are worshipful ...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
“When Death Comes"

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it's over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.

I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world”
“Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?

Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and softly,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,

with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing, forever?

from “Peonies”
More quotes…