Friday, October 08, 2010

Why I Wake Early by Mary Oliver


This has been a pretty eclectic week of reviews from diet advice to African post-apocalyptic fantasy, a suicide documentary and Japanese romance. Who knew the library had so much good stuff? (You did, didn’t you?) And now to finish off the week with a book of poems.

A book of poetry is often by my bedside table for the main reason that I know I need to read more poetry and since I go to bed each night there is a good chance I will see it there and crack it open for a minute or two. Otherwise it is just so hard to dedicate some poetry time when there are so many novels clamoring for attention. One recent poetic gem that has made it into my hands amid all of the longer narratives is Mary Oliver’s Why I Wake Early.

This is the third book of poetry of Oliver’s I have read and I imagine I will keep coming back to her work for inspiration and the gift of new sight. Her poems are steeped in the glory of the natural world. Snakes slide through dark lakes. Snow crickets fly vine to vine. The world comes alive in new and wonderful ways that before seemed ordinary and dull.

More than just this heightening of the natural experience, Oliver delivers punctuating insights that blur the lines between viewer and viewed. She reminds you that all the lives witnessed during your existence are intricately involved with your own if you just take the moment to really see. She gives you the eyes to make that distinction and magically sustains the illusion that they were your eyes looking all along.

But enough of my words, how about a few of hers to round out this work week:

From Song of the Builders:

On a summer morning
I sat down
on a hillside
to think about God--

a worthy pastime.
Near me, I saw
a single cricket;
it was moving the grains of the hillside

this way and that way.
How great was its energy,
how humble its effort.
Let us hope

it will always be like this,
each of us going on
in our inexplicable ways
building the universe.


Check out Mary Oliver’s Why I Wake Early.

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