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Evidence: Poems

4.39  ·  Rating details ·  1,645 ratings  ·  214 reviews
Never afraid to shed the pretense of academic poetry, never shy of letting the power of an image lie in unadorned language, Mary Oliver offers us poems of arresting beauty that reflect on the power of love and the great gifts of the natural world. Inspired by the familiar lines from William Wordsworth, “To me the meanest flower that blows can give / Thoughts that do often ...more
Hardcover, 88 pages
Published April 1st 2009 by Beacon Press (first published January 1st 2009)
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Average rating 4.39  · 
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 ·  1,645 ratings  ·  214 reviews

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Jul 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Years ago I asked a student in an undergraduate poetry class if she liked Mary Oliver's work.

"She the lady who write about bears and otters and her dog?" my asked.

"Her," I said.

"Nah. Don't really like her," she replied.

This is possible? I asked myself. It is possible. How? I wondered.

Don't know.

More recently a friend said of Mary Oliver "you love her or you hate her."

How? I wondered.

I have just read Evidence, and I have an answer.

It's not possible.

Oliver is honest, real, tangible. She is taking
David J
Aug 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
"Keep room in your heart for the unimaginable." ...more
Liam Malone
Jan 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I imagined the book arriving in the mail Friday, and then reading it on Saturday. Well, when I biked home Thursday by 6:10 p.m. I found 2 boxes from Amazon at my door. I got in, doffed my gear and drank some water. I opened the boxes. The second housed Individuation in Fairy Tales, so excited to read it this weekend. The first held Mary Oliver's Evidence. I walked to the frig. Poured a glass of Chenin Blanc Vionigeir and started reading randomly. I cooked some pasta laced with cheese and herbs, ...more
Mar 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Mysteries, Yes

Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
to be understood.

How grass can be nourishing in the
mouths of the lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever
in allegiance with gravity
while we ourselves dream of rising.
How two hands touch and the bonds
will never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the
scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.

Let me keep my distance, always, from those
who think they have the answers.

Let me keep company always with those who say
"Look!" and laugh in as
Mark Robison
Aug 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I read this when it came out in 2009 and just reread it. For right here and now, it's my favorite book, period. Nearly every poem here is simply wondrous, from the first four-line poem: "There is the heaven we enter/ through institutional grace/ and there are the yellow finches bathing and singing/ in the lowly puddle." Her writing has a Zen eye for nature and a Christian heart for compassion. She sees the joy and grief in everything and inspires the reader to pay more attention and live more fu ...more
Jennifer M
Mar 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The problem with poetry is that when you love it you want to read all of it at once and yet at the same time, you want to let each line sink in. Mary Oliver’s work is no different. I already have a second book checked out and will pick up several more. Her simplicity and depth - especially through the eye of the natural world and personal experiences - are beautiful and moving and carry such deep truths worth the time to reflect on.
Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)
This is my first experience with Mary Oliver, and it's love love love love love.
I want to devour the pages and thus incorporate her work into the soup of my cells.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Mar 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, read2011
Mary Oliver reminds me of the cards at Hallmark that are labeled "simply stated" - she doesn't apologize for not saying more than needs to be said, meaning some poems are 3 lines at most. Simplicity should not be confused for nothingness, because she is remarkably eloquent.

For instance, "We Shake with Joy":

We shake with joy, we shake with grief.
What a time they have, these two
housed as they are in the same body.

My favorite of this volume is "To Begin With, the Sweet Grass," a poem in multiple nu
Julio Bonilla
Sep 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
First poetry book I’ve read in awhile. WOW!
Kristin Kowalk
Jan 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars
Feb 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lovely. Thanks to Margene for reminding me that the 2nd was Silent Poetry Reading Day!
Jan 30, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
I particularly like the poem about Schubert, the poem about the moon rowing away into the night and the poem about a meeting with a deer she calls Swirler shortly before his death--the poem ends "In my house there are a hundred half-done poems./ Each of us leaves an unfinished life."

"He takes such small steps/to express our longings." Schubert

"And, bending close,/as we all dream of doing,/she rows with her white arms/through the dark water..." Moon and Water

"And what do I risk to tell you this,
Dec 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommended to K by: George Edensword-Breck
I still feel unbearable shame when I think that on my visit to Bennington, not yet 18, I sat in on Mary Oliver's class and got into an argument with her about whether there are any worthwhile women poets. I said: no. I didn't know anything about poetry or anything else, and she is Mary Oliver, the sweetest, wisest woman and an incredible poet. Her poetry punctuated my life-planning retreat at Earth Sanctuary with my sister this weekend, and I wish I could apologize to her personally for being an ...more
Nov 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I discuss the poetry of Mary Oliver here. ...more
Corie Sanford
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I remember a time in college when I was trying on pretention as a way of being and I dismissed Oliver's work - too simple, too obvious, too plain.

We make such funny errors sometimes.

I think the things that made me dismiss her when I was being difficult for difficulty's sake are all of the elements that make me love her so deeply now. A keen eye, a thrill in the exquisite ordinariness of the world. Gratitude as an undercurrent. Her poetry comes from a deep well of watching and loving the world.
Deb in UT
Aug 31, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Another book I read recommended reading poetry by female poets. I checked out a bunch from my library. This is the first one I read. I enjoyed it. The simplicity is refreshing particularly after reading a series of complicated novels and nonfiction. I'm really looking forward to reading more poetry books.

This book reminds me of when we lived in Central New York and would go canoeing on Beaver Lake. At the time we lived there, I was taking a creative writing class that required us to write haiku.
Mar 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favorites:
-“Heart Poem”
-“Thinking of Swirler”
-“There are a Lot if Mockingbirds in This Book”
- “To Begin With, the Sweet Grass”
- “I Want to Write Something So Simply”
-“At the River Clarion”
Margie Dorn
Apr 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
You can never go wrong with Mary Oliver. A couple of the poems in this collection brought me to tears. In depth, she matches Rumi and e. e. cummings, but of course, her fans already know that. Thank God for poets of the past and of the present.
Dan Rogers
Aug 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Mary Oliver never fails to act as a salv in anxious, hurried times, a teacher, instructing to slow down, and wonder, and simply be.
May 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
So many gems in this. I recommend the following:

At the Pond
Moon and Water
At the River Clarion
I Want
About Angels and About Trees
Meeting Wolf
Another Summer Begins
Oct 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"imagine everything you can imagine, then keep on going." ...more
Feb 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful poet / beautiful poems.

Evidence: Poems
by Mary Oliver
We create ourselves by our choices. - Kierkegaard


They appeared over the dunes,
they skimmed the trees
and hurried on

to the sea
or some lonely pond
or wherever it is
that swans go,

urgent, immaculate,
the heat of their eyes
staring down
and then away,

the thick spans
of their wings
as bright as snow,
their shoulder-power

inside my own body.
How could I help but adore them?
How could I help but wish

that one of them might drop
May 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, read-in-2009
I think that you understand a poet through their words. I offer the following words

A couple of quotes-
from Li Po and the Moon
There is the story of the old Chinese poet:
at night in his boat he went drinking and dreaming
and singing
then drowned as he reached for the moon's reflection.
Well, probably each of us, at some time, has been
as desperate.
Not the moon, though.

Landscape in Winter
Upon the snow that says nothing,
that is endlessly brilliant,
there is something
heaped, dark and motionless.
Then com
Mar 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a well-crafted and beautiful collection of poems! Mary Oliver has once again inspired the reader, the writer and the spirit within me. The simplicity with which she brings us to the heart of a particular matter is amazing! It was difficult to choose just one piece to share with you as they are all like a well-played symphony.

The Poet Always Carries a Notebook (p.16)

What is he scribbling on the page?
Is there snow in it, or fire?

Is it the beginning of a poem?
Is it a love note?

Dec 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Such a delicate, tender and deep evocation of a life lived with meaning.

This is one from the collection.

Mysteries, Yes

Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
to be understood.

How grass can be nourishing in the
mouths of the lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever
in allegiance with gravity
while we ourselves dream of rising.
How two hands touch and the bonds
will never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the
scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.

Let me keep my distance, always, from those
May 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, first-reads
Goodreads gave me this wonderful hardback edition of Mary Oliver's poems and I'm glad. I am enjoying them so much. She writes about nature, but not about nature as just nature, more as a way to write about life. If the poem was just about a tree or a plant or a bird, I would probably find it boring, but the poems by Oliver are never "just" about anything, they are more about everything. I love the one she wrote about hating adjectives and so many others. I am reading a few of these each day and ...more
Jun 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
Mary Oliver shares an intimate conversation with her reader - each poem giving a glimpse of her joy and wonder at the natural world. Her poems are uplifting and refreshing. She paints a picture with words that catch one moment in time. I would highly recommend this book to anyone.
Take time to pause and breathe in moments of clear, profound purity of thought with each of these poems from Mary Oliver.
May 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a lovely, heartwarming collection of poems!! I literally devour everything by Mary Oliver. Her work really makes you pause and appreciate nature's little gifts, oneself, and the every day. I know there are a ton of critics who claim that her poems are "simplistic" (and they're entitled to their wrong opinions), but I find her poems so necessary. It might sound a bit cliche, but this collection of poems was such a comfort. We all need a bit of Mary Oliver's beautiful work in our lives. ...more
May 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: nature lovers, poetry lovers
Shelves: poetry
I received this book as a winner of one of the contests from goodreads. I really enjoy Mary Oliver's poems. I like that she writes about what she sees in her world right outside her home. My favorites are Moon and Water, Schubert, Just Rain, Empty Branch in the Orchard and the title poem Evidence. ...more
T.Kay Browning
Jan 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
I'm hoping this is the start of a Mary Oliver phase, as the digital public library has a solid collection. Apparently she is the unofficial poet laureate of the UU church, although she is not a member herself. ...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

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