"New and Selected Poems: Volume Two, an anthology of forty-two new poems - an entire volume in itself - and sixty-nine poems hand-picked by Mary Oliver from six of her last eight books, is a major addition to a career in poetry that has spanned nearly five decades." "Mary Oliver is always searching for the soul of things. In poem after poem, her investigations go from the humble green bean that nourishes her to the vast, untouchable bliss of "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." Oliver's search grows and is informed by experience, meditation, perception, and discernment. And all the while, during her quest, she is constantly surprised and fortified by joy."--BOOK JACKET.
“Work, Sometimes.” “I was sad all day, and why not. There I was, books piled on both sides of the table, paper stacked up, words falling off my tongue. // The robins had a long time singing, and now it was beginning to rain. // What are we sure of? Happiness isn’t a town on a map, or an early arrival, or a job well done, but good work ongoing. Which is not likely to be the trifling around with a poem. // Then it began raining hard, and the flowers in the yard were full of lively fragrance. // You have had days like this, no doubt. And wasn’t it wonderful, finally, to leave the room? Ah, what a moment! // As for myself, I swung the door open. And there was the wordless, singing world. And I ran for my life.” (6).
“Of What Surrounds Me.” Whatever it is I am saying, I always / need a leaf or a flower, if not an / entire field. As for the sky, I am so wildly / in love with each day’s inventions, cool blue / or cat gray or full / of the ships of clouds, I simply can’t / say whatever it is I am saying without / a least one skyful. That leaves water, a / creek or a well, river or ocean, it has to be / there. For the heart to be there. For the pen / to be poised. For the idea to come.” (32).
“The Faces of Deer.” When for too long I don’t go deep enough into the woods to see them, they begin to enter my dreams. Yes, there they are, in the pinewoods of my inner life. I want to live a life full of modesty and praise. Each hoof of each animal makes the sign of a heart as it touches then lifts away from the ground. Unless you believe that heaven is very near, how will you find it? Their eyes are pools in which one would be content, on any summer afternoon, to swim away through the door of the world. Then, love and its blessing. Then: heaven.” (33).
“The Owl Who Comes.” “The owl who comes / through the dark / to sit / in the black boughs of the apple tree // and stare down / the hook of his beak, / dead silent, / and his eyes, // like two moons / in the distance, / soft and shining / under their heavy lashes-- // like the most beautiful lie-- / is thinking / of nothing / as he watches // and waits to see / what might appear, / briskly, out of the seamless, // deep winter-- / out of the teeming / world below-- / and if I wish the owl luck, / and I do, / what am I wishing for that other / soft life, / climbing through the snow? // What we must do, / I suppose,/is to hope the world keeps its balance; // what we are to do, however, / with our hearts / waiting and watching—truly / I do not know.” (52-53).
Like so many of her poems, I felt a deep connection. Sometime back, I was out for a pre-dawn walk, when two birds flashed before my eyes—only a foot or two away—and I scared the owl, which flew up into a tree, not more than 10 feet away. I stood there in a staring contest as we sized each other up. Then she took off and flew away.
Mary Oliver’s collection, New and Selected Poems: Volume Two, will take you places to see things in a new light. 5 stars.