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New and Selected Poems, Volume One

4.52  ·  Rating details ·  8,883 Ratings  ·  344 Reviews
Features previously published and new poems that explore the natural world and how it is connected to human beings and spirituality.
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published November 1st 2004 by Beacon Press (first published 1992)
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(showing 1-30)
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Debbie "DJ"
Apr 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, own
Fantastic! Oliver's poems always touch my heart, and this collection shares her best...especially "Wild Geese," and "The Journey."
Mar 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-books, poetry
I'll admit it. I'm often intimidated by poetry. Many times I can't understand or find meaning in poems I've read.

I was familiar with some of Mary Oliver's most well-known poems, such as "The Summer Day", "Wild Geese", and "Why I Wake Early", but wouldn't have read this entire book if it wasn't for a challenge for National Poetry month.

I'm very glad that I took the time to go through this book poem by poem. While there were a few that left me scratching my head, on the whole Oliver's poems are ap
Oct 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I LOVE Mary Oliver and would recommend her poetry to anyone. One of the reasons I so love her work is that she is totally accessible. She doesn't write those things that are so obtuse that you are afraid to say, "What the hell is that about?" because everyone else is also afraid to say that and so they all act like it's just brilliant and so no one ever just says, "That makes no *&$%!*&! sense at all. It's horrible." And such is the world of art and poetry today.

Anyway, enough of my rant
Tom Shadyac
Apr 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
Mary Oliver is a national treasure. She is as close to a living, breathing, Ralph Waldo Emerson as we have today. And while her poetry explores the beauty of nature, Mary never forgets that we are nature, as well. Lessons learned from the grace of a swan, or the patience discerned in the face of a stone, bring us closer to the essential and therefore, bring us closer to ourselves. You can’t go wrong with any of her books. My introduction was a poem entitled, The Journey, and I quickly found myse ...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
May 14, 2012 added it
Recommended to Jeanette by: Anne Lamott
Yesterday I gorged on my first feast of Mary Oliver's work, racing through three of her short books all in a day. I've started this one with determination to go a bit more slowly, but as I page through what is here, all I can think is oh, oh, oh, oh, oh! More, more, more, more, more!

June 20
I've finally finished. I took my time with this one, as it covers poetry from many stages of her life, going back to the 1960s. It's hard to assign a rating, but I can recommend it without reservation.
Jan 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
these are poems that teach us how to read (and write) poems. also how to be alive, pay attention, fall in love, find god. it goes in reverse chronological order, so we get to follow the truth as it wiggles all the way back into Oliver's earliest published poems, and waits to expand into every pore of her later work.
a brief list of words she uses in her poems that i want to use in my poems:

i read "in blackwater woo
Tylor Lovins
Dec 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Wittgenstein once said "Whereof we cannot speak, thereof we must be silent." As a logico-philosophical imperative, this is also an ethical imperative. Oliver's anthology is beautiful and insightful as she is successful in expressing the inexpressible precisely because she does not try to do it. She simply describes life, and in her descriptions we begin to understand life in its competing contrasts and depths. These, it turns out, are the things we fail to learn from, most times, to see beauty i ...more
Apr 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Oh I love Mary Oliver. She is fierce about nature and just when you think you cannot possibly read another poem about another meadow flower she throws one at ya like
"listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?"
Brilliant I say.
And I love her attitude about life, you can either mope around in your life or you can go forth with the ferocity of all that is splendid and real!
Good poetry collection.

Tended towards the nature poetry a bit much for my taste, but these are the collected poems so these are kind of like the greatest hits.

Feb 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Its been a long time since I read her last...yesterday my little sister asked me what "ineffable" means, and as I was explaining its meaning to her somewhere inside someplace a tiny voice kept insisting,just say "its rather like a Mary Oliver poem"...I do not feel like addressing her with a commonplace Miss Oliver...not when I know her like that and she me..Mary strips me of all my desperate strength, all the futile hard earned evolution and adornments I managed to soil myself with on the way, a ...more
Jan 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
"There is only one question: how to love this world," Mary Oliver writes in "Spring," one of the finest poems in this collection. The selections in this book try to find answers to that question, primarily in the natural world. These are poems about nature and wonder, love and death, egrets and humpback whales. They aren't difficult poems, but straightforward in their precise, well-crafted imagery. There is a beauty in their apparent simplicity, in the observations of a poet clearly in love with ...more
Doug Wells
Feb 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
What a lovely writer of simple and elegant thoughts. This one ventured more towards nature and natural settings. Part of one, In Blackwater Woods, will forever stick with me:

To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:

to love what is mortal;
to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go, let it go.
Shawn Sorensen
Feb 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
The precious poetry of Mary Oliver gets a long look in volume one of her selected poems. These are classic poems, but Oliver's work stands the test of time and stays fresh better than almost any other poet.

I thought it might have been better to be at a shorter length and go chronologically from her first poems to her later volumes, but I was pleasantly surprised at how more raw and opinionated her earlier works were. Reading those pieces at the end might be what I remember most from this.

Mark Robison
Apr 19, 2014 rated it liked it
My favorite poet by far but I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone but hardcore fans. The book spans 30 years and goes backward chronologically from 1992 to 1963. She simply became a better poet after this time frame. It’s all good but just good, and the early stuff shows her trying too hard and cluttering up the poems with poetic flourishes. Which isn’t to say there aren’t some awesome parts: “When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder/ if I have made of my life something particular, and real./ I don’ ...more
Lauren Adams
Dec 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Mary Oliver is the greatest of them all. I bookmarked about 25 poems in this collection that I plan to read frequently (and already have.) She writes mainly about nature, starting with the smallest details described in the most artistic way, panning out its (and our) purpose in this world. I will say, I enjoyed the first half of this collection (poems from the '90s/'80s) significantly more than the second half (poems from the '60s/'70s).

If you've ever wanted to get into poetry but roll your eyes
Jul 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
From "Spring": "Somewhere/a black bear/has just risen from sleep/and is staring/down the mountain./All night/in the brisk and shallow restlessness/of early spring/I think of her/her four black fists/flicking gravel/her tongue/like a red fire/touching the grass/the cold water./There is only one question:/how to love this world."
Laila (BigReadingLife)
An accessible, beautiful, meaningful collection of poetry that everyone should read. Oliver has a marvelous way of writing about the natural world and situating herself (and us) within it, asking the big questions of existence. This is a collection that I will be reading for the rest of my life.
Jan 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really loved getting to know Mary Oliver better through this collection. I've never been particularly affected by nature poetry, but the way that she ruminates on the connections between humans and the natural universe is incredibly moving. I also like the way this volume was organized, with her most recent poems first then going back in reverse chronological order-- her newer work definitely has a more serene air of wisdom, peace, and stability than her earliest work, where you can see her tr ...more
Sep 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
The first thing I read from Oliver was her collection "Why I Wake Early," which definitely reverberated in me. I followed that up with Dog Songs, and Thirst, and Red Bird, House of Light, and American Primitive. Few of these were compiled into this collection of poems from 1992; perhaps that is why, though I enjoyed it, I am, on the whole, lukewarm about it.

Though Oliver likes to ponder things like the soul, the spirit, higher power, prayer--things from which I tend to shy away--she does so wit
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
SAL/SPL Summer Book Bingo - Poetry
Oct 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own, poetry
This was absolutely fantastic!
I can't choose a favourite, really because I enjoyed every poem. There are so many quotable and beautiful parts.
Most of them are influenced by nature which I personally really liked and thought was very fascinating.
They made me feel happy and sad at the same time. But most importantly, they made me think and reflect.
This was also the first time I've read poetry. I've never been into poetry - or at least I thought I wasn't - but apparently I was wrong. I'm glad I
Aug 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I've been on a poetry kick lately. I would have told you 3 years ago that I don't get poetry, any poetry. But lately, I can't get enough. There are a few lines in some of these poems that knocked me out. Some of my favorites are The Summer Day, The Journey, Rage, A Visitor & In Blackwater Woods (which the quote below is taken from).

Every year
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side
is salvation,
whose meaning
none of
Oct 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Emily Dickenson said it best."If I read a book [and] it makes my whole body so cold no fire ever can warm me I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only way I know it. Is there any other way"

Mary Olivers' poetry continuously gives me chills and reminds me how amazing it is to be alive in this world. Could a writer ask for any better success than that?

I think her poetry is simple and approachable enough to convinc
Sep 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Mary Oliver's work has helped me endure many long nights of the soul. Like so many people, I was introduced to her poems by way of 'Wild Geese,' which would be a cliche except it's so damn beautiful you forget, re-reading it, that it pops up all over these days. Read 'In Blackwater Woods' or 'Dogfish,' out loud. Even if you don't like poetry. Trust me.

Her later work takes up some new subjects, most significantly, her long relationship with her partner Molly, Molly's death, and after. But while
Jan 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, favorites
I know this is a book I will return to again and again. Like Oliver's other collections, I'm never going to stop wanting to read it or finding something new in it. I'm constantly amazed by how her clear, precise language contains such depth of feeling. Oliver's primary concern is her own mortality, and she constantly finds new ways to think about it. Her poetry doesn't patronise, but it remains hopeful. I want to turn to it every time I struggle with expressing myself, because I would love to be ...more
Oct 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Mary Oliver's Pulitzer-Prize winning poetry captures the remote sense of mystery and appreciation of the natural world characteristic of the Unitarian Universalist perspective. She is the rare poet who can use nature imagery to capture the raw pain and beauty of engaging fully in the moment - the perfection of the world, the fragility of life. "Yet under reason burns a brighter fire, which the bones have always preferred." - (from The Black Snake)
Jan 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I used to read poetry a lot but over the years I stopped not really knowing why. Over the past few months I picked it up again. I kept hearing about Mary Oliver and started to read this collection, a few poems a day. Her description of nature of the environment is so beautiful. My fav from this collection
Sleeping In The Forest ~ I thought the earth remembered me, she took me back so tenderly, arranging her dark skirts, her pockets full of lichen and seeds. I slept as never before........
Sep 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gorgeous in so many ways, her writing takes my breath away in places. In other places, I wish she would venture out of the natural world a little to the places I inhabit. While I truly appreciate why she is loved by so many, her subject matter doesn't grab me most of the time.
Dec 29, 2008 is currently reading it
more like I'm reading it AGAIN. I enjoy the evolution of her writing, the steps toward the sparse beauty, and the almost total exclusion of people.. I love her work. What astounds me is how much she says about us, without invoking us at all. We are just animals, after all...
Jun 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I finished this book of poetry over the Christmas holidays. How lovely. I want her poetry read at my funeral.
Looking forward to reading her new book, A Thousand Mornings, that I received for Christmas.
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Line Breaks 1 1 May 17, 2018 01:22PM  
Madison Mega-Mara...: #27 -- New and Selected Poems, Volume One by Mary Oliver ... Beautiful!!! 1 4 Feb 18, 2015 08:54AM  
  • Words Under the Words: Selected Poems
  • Delights and Shadows
  • Migration: New and Selected Poems
  • The Collected Poems, 1957-1982
  • Collected Poems
  • The Dead and the Living
  • Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry
  • A Book of Luminous Things: An International Anthology of Poetry
  • Time and Materials
  • Good Poems
  • Rilke's Book of Hours: Love Poems to God
  • Poems New and Collected
  • The Wild Iris
  • The House of Belonging
  • Without: Poems
  • The Dream of a Common Language
  • The City in Which I Love You
  • The Way It Is: New and Selected Poems
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 about Mary Oliver

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“to live in this world

you must be able
to do three things
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go”
“When it's over, I want to say: all my life I was a bride married to amazement.

More quotes…