Long life : essays and other writings

by Mary Oliver

Paper Book, 2004


Checked out
Due Apr 7, 2024



Cambridge, MA : Da Capo Press, 2004.


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 inLong 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)

User reviews

LibraryThing member devafagan
Beautifully written. Easy to dip in and out of, but each bit I read is like a short, sharp-aired walk in the mountains.
LibraryThing member JimElkins
Does it bother Mary Oliver that her sense of nature is so simple? That it is so easy to achieve the lyricism she is after? (Really, it’s easy. She says she works hard, and I don’t doubt her, but these are easy to read, easy to see through.) Compare Gary Snyder on the subject of nature, or Cold
Show More
Mountain, Basho, or Wallace Stevens: they are sharper, harder, riskier, deeper. Simple, but not simpleminded about poetry. Oliver polishes already smooth ideas.
Show Less
LibraryThing member bexaplex
Long Life is a collection of autobiographical musings and republished essays from a Cape Cod poet. This is the sort of stuff ones takes to the beach or the airport: nature-y vignettes.
LibraryThing member KinnicChick
I haven't read an abundance of Ms. Oliver's poetry, but what I have read, I love. The problem that I had with this book (and that problem is simply my own, most likely) is that it is such a hodgepodge of stuff. It doesn't claim to be anything more than that, so again, it's my problem, I'm sure, but
Show More
I cannot rate it more highly because I wanted there to be more cohesion between the things that were brought together in the book. It is a collection of essays and poems. But they are all over the place. Some pieces on nature, some pieces on life at home with her partner, some pieces about life with dogs, and some things about Emerson and Hawthorne... it was just too broad of scope for me. (I guess it was the stuff on the other writers that felt out of place. Had I skipped that, the rest would have been quite comfortably cohesive.)

I'll turn to her poetry for further reading.
Show Less
LibraryThing member bell7
This quirky collection of essays and poems gives some insight into the private life of poet Mary Oliver, probably best known for her poems about nature. She and her partner, Molly Malone Cook, lived in Provincetown for many years, and several of the essays include home anecdotes with M. or
Show More
descriptions of the Cape Cod area. As is typical in a collection of this sort, I really liked some essays, a few left me cold, and some were just okay. In such an eclectic collection, the ones which surprised me the most at their inclusion were the three introductions to works of Emerson and Hawthorne. It felt a little bit like she had a deadline she was trying to make and not a lot of material - though, to be fair, it did make me borrow one of Hawthorne's collections from the library, and Oliver herself begins the collection by explaining why she'd rather writer poetry than prose. All in all, I enjoyed it.
Show Less


Lambda Literary Award (Nominee — Autobiography/Memoir — 2004)



Page: 0.3913 seconds