What do we know : poems and prose poems

by Mary Oliver

Paper Book, 2002






Cambridge, MA : Da Capo Press, 2002.


"Mary Oliver's poetry is fine and deep; it reads like a blessing," wrote Stanley Kunitz many years ago; and recently, Rita Dove described her last volume, The Leaf and the Cloud, as "a brilliant meditation." For the many admirers of Mary Oliver's dazzling poetry and luminous vision, as well as for those who may be coming to her work for the first time, What Do We Know will be a revelation. These forty poems-of observing, of searching, of pausing, of astonishment, of giving thanks-embrace in every sense the natural world, its unrepeatable moments and its ceaseless cycles. Mary Oliver evokes unforgettable images-from one hundred white-sided dolphins on a summer day to bees that have memorized every stalk and leaf in a field-even as she reminds us, after Emerson, that "the invisible and imponderable is the sole fact."… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member porian
A great book of quiet poetry. "Luminous" is a great word to describe the volume. Poems of note: Raven with Crows, Heron Rises from the Dark, Summer Pond, The Lark, & Snowy Night (All poems about birds, interesting.)
LibraryThing member MusicMom41
In this volume poems and prose poems Oliver continues with her lovely way of helping us find hidden meaning in the small things and actions observed in nature. Her descriptions always bring vivid pictures to the mind of the reader. Another theme that I have found in the books that I have read by her is the idea of death as part of life in nature—never heavy handed or too frequent, but always occasionally bringing us back from the idyll to the reality of the natural order. In this volume this feeling is intensified and the theme of death and what comes after (and what went before) is recurring throughout. Another surprise is there are religious overtones in many of the poems and as I read I kept thinking that perhaps Mary Oliver had something happen that made her acutely aware of her mortality. About two thirds through the volume is a deeply felt long poem about her dog Luke called “Her Grave Again.” This book has added another dimension to her work and made it more personal and revelatory of herself. This is a wonderful collection to read and ponder and relate to.… (more)



Page: 1.2043 seconds