Mary Oliver Long Life Essays

“I mean, by such flightiness, something that feels unsatisfied at the center of my life — that makes me shaky, fickle, inquisitive, and hungry. I could call it a longing for home and not be far wrong. Or I could call it a longing for whatever supersedes, if it cannot pass through, understanding. Other words that come to mind: faith, grace, rest. In my outward appearance and life habits I hardly change — there’s never been a day that my friends haven’t been able to say, and at a distance, “There’s Oliver, still standing around in the weeds. There she is, still scribbling in her notebook.” But, at the center: I am shaking; I am flashing like tinsel. Restless. I read about ideas. Yet I let them remain ideas. I read about the poet who threw his books away, the better to come to a spiritual completion. Yet I keep my books. I flutter; I am attentive, maybe I even rise a little, balancing; then I fall back.”
― Mary Oliver, Long Life: Essays and Other Writings

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Long Life: Essays and Other Writings4.25 · Rating details ·  642 Ratings  ·  69 Reviews

‘The gift of Oliver's poetry is that she communicates the beauty she finds in the world and makes it unforgettable.’ (Miami Herald) This has never been truer than in Long Life, a luminous collection of seventeen essays and ten poems.

With the grace and precision that are the hallmarks of her work, Oliver shows us how writing ‘is a way of offering praise to the world’ and su‘The gift of Oliver's poetry is that she communicates the beauty she finds in the world and makes it unforgettable.’ (Miami Herald) This has never been truer than in Long Life, a luminous collection of seventeen essays and ten poems.

With the grace and precision that are the hallmarks of her work, Oliver shows us how writing ‘is a way of offering praise to the world’ and suggests we see her poems as ‘little alleluias’. Whether describing a goosefish stranded at low tide, the feeling of being baptized by the mist from a whale's blowhole, or the ‘connection between soul and landscape’, Oliver invites readers to find themselves and their experiences at the center of her world. In Long Life she also speaks of poets and writers: Wordsworth's ‘whirlwind’ of ‘beauty and strangeness’; Hawthorne's ‘sweet-tempered’ side; and Emerson's belief that ‘a man's inclination, once awakened to it, would be to turn all the heavy sails of his life to a moral purpose’.

With consummate craftsmanship, Mary Oliver has created a breathtaking volume sure to add to her reputation as ‘one of our very best poets’ (New York Times Book Review)....more

Paperback, 101 pages

Published March 2nd 2005 by Da Capo Press (first published 2004)

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