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Why I Wake Early

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  5,203 ratings  ·  434 reviews
The forty-seven new works in this volume include poems on crickets, toads, trout lilies, black snakes, goldenrod, bears, greeting the morning, watching the deer, and, finally, lingering in happiness. Each poem is imbued with the extraordinary perceptions of a poet who considers the everyday in our lives and the natural world around us and finds a multitude of reasons to wa ...more
Paperback, 71 pages
Published April 15th 2005 by Beacon Press (first published 2004)
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Average rating 4.41  · 
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 ·  5,203 ratings  ·  434 reviews


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Anna
Jan 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Mary Oliver continues to rip my heart out, cleanse it, and return it to me better than when she took it.
David Schaafsma
Sep 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
RIP, Mary Oliver, 1/17/19

Summer's Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean--
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down --
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a praye
...more
Kevin Fanning
Jul 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Loved this. I think it’s taken my whole life to appreciate a book like this, poetry that is quiet and humble and confronts the spiritual and the unknowable without starting from a place of pain and negativity.

Favorites include:

Why I Wake Early:
Watch, now, how I start the day / in happiness, in kindness.

Freshen the Flowers, She Said:
Fifteen minutes of music / with nothing playing.

Where Does the Temple Begin, Where Does It End?
Looking I mean not just standing around, but standing around / as t
...more
Celia
Mary Oliver, who wrote poetry AND prose for over a 60 year period, died recently at the age of 83. I had first read about Mary and her beautiful poetry in the book, End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. As Will's mother Maryann lay dying, he read her the poem Where Does the Temple Begin, Where Does It End?. God is mentioned more than once in this poem. Even though Maryann was breathing her last breaths, Will noticed perhaps a flutter in her eyes as she heard the word God.

As I read the bea
...more
Cheryl
Gorgeous hymns to clouds, deer, snakes, beans... for atheists, Buddhists, Christians.... Accessible and challenging simultaneously so it doesn't matter whether you're new to poetry or not. Not a dud in the lot. I can't choose favorites, but maybe give you samples. *The Dovekie* is wonderful, but you have to read the whole (1 page) thing.

from: _*The Pinewoods*_

Just before dawn
three deer came walking...

I did not really see them.
I came later, and saw their tracks
on the empty sand.
But I don't b
...more
Jon Nakapalau
Dec 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, poetry
Mary Oliver is able to connect with nature in a truly unique way. Very beautiful expression of our connection with the cycle of life.
Maria
Jan 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, poetry
Languid.

The word reminds me of the early hours when there are no thoughts of rush, when every single thing takes its time. It feels as if the world has been rehearsing this moment for perfection. Cue the sunrise. Cue the first singing voice of the day. Choir, you are up next.

Every little thing sounds so loud in the silence of the morning. Peace is palpable. There's a sense of plenitude. Your breath falls in rhythm with the surroundings. The air smells of possibilities, of new beginnings.

It's bot
...more
Elizabeth A
May 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020, poetry
In celebration of National Poetry Month (April), my partner and I decided to each write a daily haiku. It was a fun and restorative way to process some of our COVID-19 quarantine emotions. The other fun thing I did was read this collection. It might well be the first completed collection of Oliver's I've read - I've dabbled in her works here and there over the years. I read these poems over several days before bed. I read each one twice. Once to understand what it was about, and the second time ...more
Ashley
Sep 14, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
Nature focused like her other work but a much stronger religious bent than I expected. I like her newer work much better.
Becky
Dec 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Her writing makes me pause and savor. To contemplate more deeply and breathe in. To want to write about the beauty in this life, or at least take notice of it. One day I want to live in the country again and lay down in the grass with my children and watch tiny bugs on waving grass. Until then, I'll try to look up at the sky more often, to know how things feel, to love the shadows and light on the walls, and to be alive in the bright wind and the everyday things that are given.
Gail
Mar 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Just more beautiful poetry by the great old woman who, oh-my-goodness, just makes words sing out such lush pictures of our world. She writes poems that share with us those clear, precise images of such beauty--or the tragedy found in the natural world--and her sense of them: the joy, the sweetness, the knowing of immediate, sublime pleasure in something that is only here for just this moment. But oh, what a moment. Captured, in Mary Oliver's words. It's like she writes with a crystal pen tip, an ...more
Kara Belden
Mar 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5 nowhere near as deeply touching as Truro Bear, but enjoyable and worth the time nonetheless.
Jay
Dec 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
4 1/2 stars, really. I’m a late-comer to Mary Oliver (Thank you, Terry Glaspey). Lots of “nature“ in these poems, especially birds (see below). Even though I have lived in Florida for 31 years and, before then, in Oregon for almost 7 years, I remain a New Englander at heart. Fall, snow, cranberry bogs, pine woods, beaches in winter, bare trees, goldenrod in late summer are in my DNA. My parents lived year-round on Cape Cod for 25 years, so her descriptions of the world at the far end of the Cape ...more
James Murphy
Nov 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I've read and enjoyed lots of Oliver's poetry. I'd never noticed her writing from a religious viewpoint before. Or else I didn't remember, it being a few years since I've read her. I don't hold it against a writer if she articulates her faith. But a fact of poetry written from a religious impulse is that a secular reader can't or may not appreciate, ultimately, what the poet wishes to express. However beautifully written, it doesn't always make for interesting poetry. Why Mary Oliver wakes early ...more
Deb
Jul 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my first Mary Oliver poetry and I am sure it will not be my last. Her poems in this volume are beautiful, accessible, and tied to an appreciation of nature. I checked out the library e-book, but this is a collection I would like to own. I've been trying to live more meaningfully and with more gratitude for the world around me and Oliver's poems--like the titular one below capture that feeling for me.
We should all start the day in happiness and in kindness.

"Why I Wake Early

Hello, sun in
...more
Jordan
Jan 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
“So many lives, so many fortunes!
Every morning, I walk softly and with coward glances
down to the ponds and through the pinewoods.
Mushrooms, even, have but a brief hour
before the slug creeps to the feast,
before the pine needles hustle down
Under the bundles of harsh, beneficent rain.”
- from, ‘One’

Mary Oliver’s writing is such a dream. in ‘Why I Wake Early’, anything & everything little is alive and precious. the flowers have their own music, the vegetables have a willingness to be cooked, the pity
...more
🌻Alex🌻
May 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, 4-stars
4.5 stars

You probably wouldn’t guess it from looking at my goodreads profile, but i read a lot of poetry - just not usually books of it. This was different, but definitely in a good way. Mary Oliver has a beautiful way with words. She makes the ordinary enticing and wonderful. Reading her poetry is a pleasure.

My favorites were probably The Lily, Snow Geese, and Daisies (but I loved just about all of them!)

“I held my breath
As we do
Sometimes
To stop time
When something wonderful
Has touched us”
Kate
Mar 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
Exceptionally calming in these crazy days. Exactly what I needed to clear my head and remember the majesty of our planet.
Cynthia Egbert
Sep 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
I just have to turn to Mary Oliver again and again when I need to be refreshed and I am at a place in my life when I really need to be washed over with beauty in words as only Mary Oliver can do.

I have a favourite quote that I will be using over and over: "All things are inventions of holiness. Some more rascally than others."

These are my favourites poems...

Breakage
I go down to the edge of the sea.
How everything shines in the morning light!
The cusp of the whelk,
the broken cupboard of the clam
...more
Connie Sadowinski
I really enjoyed Why I Wake Early by Mary Oliver. This is one of those books that draws you in. You can literally imagine and hear the nature that surrounds you. A book that I will return to again and again. For all the nature and poetry lovers out there, this book doesn’t disappoint.
dana
Mar 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poeta-sum
06/28/20: this book is worth ten thousand rereads :0)

***

03/25/20:
there are things you can't reach. but
you can reach out to them, and all day long.

the wind, the bird flying away. the idea of God.

and it can keep you as busy as anything else, and happier.
Yelda Basar Moers
Feb 21, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: nature, poetry
Sadly, not one of my favorite Mary Oliver compilations...This one did not stir me.
Eric
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A few favorites:

Some excerpts:

There are things you can't reach. But
you can reach out to them, all day long.

The wind, the bird flying away. The idea of God.

And it can keep you as busy as anything else, and happier.


- from Where Does the Temple Begin, Where Does It End?

What do I know.
But this: it is heaven itself to take what is given,
to see what is plain; what the sun
lights up willingly; for example - I think this
as I reach down, not to pick but merely to touch-
the suitability of the field for the
...more
Grace Lindsey
May 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Smiled to myself as I read out loud. Every time I wake up before 8, I think to myself, “I bet Mary Oliver would be proud of me.” The perfect book for a return to the beach.
oumaima
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: tender
truly i know our part is not knowing,
Janet
Dec 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I now *completely* understand why so many Avid Bookshop customers buy this for friends who need encouragement, who've just had a baby, who've just lost a loved one, who've just fallen in love. Mary Oliver writes with such a keen sense of wonder and observation--her words will make you want to go outside, take a deep breath, and give thanks for your existence here on this confounding and beautiful planet.
Alexis
Aug 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Mary Oliver is brilliant! I incurred a late fee on this from the library so that I could keep it longer and share with my parents. We all agreed that you can use the poems as a daily meditation on gratefulness for our natural surroundings. Last night, I read some out loud to my Mom and Bill while we were hanging out. So sweet. I think I'll be giving Mary Oliver as gifts in the future!
Whitney
Jan 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I'm trying to read more poetry this year. This seems like a good place to start. I love this: "I believe I will never quite know. / Though I play at the edges of knowing, / truly I know / our part is not knowing, / but looking, and touching, and loving, / which is the way I walked on, / softly, / through the pale-pink morning light."
Dianne
Jan 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Can I give this book 10 stars - or 100? I do wake early - and read this book over and over again - and send the poems to friends for special birthdays. Most all the wisdom of life, and the rewards of watching the world, are contained within 71 slim pages.
Angela
Aug 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely beautiful. My all time favorite poet. Sometimes when I am spiritually dead and dry, I pick up one of Mary Oliver's books, and this one is a favorite. Her poems inspire me, and make me feel "connected" again.
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Around the Year i...: Why I Wake Early, by Mary Oliver 1 7 May 20, 2019 07:19AM  

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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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Wherever I am, the world comes after me.
It offers me its busyness. It does not believe
that I do not want it. Now I understand
why the old poets of China went so far and high
into the mountains, then crept into the pale mist.”
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“DAISIES

It is possible, I suppose that sometime
we will learn everything
there is to learn: what the world is, for example,
and what it means. I think this as I am crossing
from one field to another, in summer, and the
mockingbird is mocking me, as one who either
knows enough already or knows enough to be
perfectly content not knowing. Song being born
of quest he knows this: he must turn silent
were he suddenly assaulted with answers. Instead

oh hear his wild, caustic, tender warbling ceaselessly
unanswered. At my feet the white-petalled daisies display
the small suns of their center piece, their -- if you don't
mind my saying so -- their hearts. Of course
I could be wrong, perhaps their hearts are pale and
narrow and hidden in the roots. What do I know?
But this: it is heaven itself to take what is given,
to see what is plain; what the sun lights up willingly;
for example -- I think this
as I reach down, not to pick but merely to touch --
the suitability of the field for the daisies, and the
daisies for the field.”
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