Thursday, January 17, 2019


Today poet, Mary Oliver, died from lymphoma. (That is the cancer that killed my husband, Barry. It loves to take the good ones.)

Mary Oliver was widely known and greatly admired. She loved nature and "dead poets" who, she said, were her friends when she was a child. 

I like accessible poetry like Mary Oliver's poems. Following is a quote from the article on NPR announcing her passing. 

"Mary Oliver isn't a difficult poet," Franklin says. "Her work is incredibly accessible, and I think that's what makes her so beloved by so many people. It doesn't feel like you have to take a seminar in order to understand Mary Oliver's poetry. She's speaking directly to you as a human being." 

When I first began reading Oliver's poetry, I thought of her as a young woman hiking through the fields, strong and healthy. I thought of me when I was young and healthy walking in the woods, exploring small things, bringing home yellow, pink or green pieces of fungus growing on a downed tree. I checked out the bird's nest in low-hanging branches, hoping to see baby birds with wide open mouths. We had still ponds on the farm where blue herons stood on one leg waiting for something, I did not know what. In tall dead trees, black crows congregated and cawed like a chorus of bad voices.

Max, my brother has always been enthralled with the natural world. When I was about four or five years old, he would hold me up to look into the blue bird's nest in the wood fence posts.

I grew up loving nature, all living things, plant or animal. The prickly may-haw bushes, the wild plum trees that grew along fence rows, the chinaberry tree with its fragrant flowers and little green berries, they all piqued my interest. And I loved wildflowers. In early spring a field of Easter Lilies blanketed a low lying pasture. My sister and I picked handfuls to take home to gift our mother. On the hill where large oak trees grew wide with heavy limbs, tiny wild violets hid where only those who knew their secret could find them.

You can see why Mary Oliver's poetry appeals to me.

I am listing some links so you can listen to Mary Oliver read her poetry or you can read her words.

The Summer Day

When Death Comes

Mary Oliver reading Wild Geese


Elephant's Child said...

My niece told me of Mary Oliver's death earlier today. And sent me a copy of When Death Comes. I hope and trust (and believe) that she lived her life to the full.

Glenda Council Beall said...

There is a wonderful interview with Mary Oliver done by Maria Shriver and we learn much about the poet. She didn't often give interviews and she was more open with Shriver than anyone. The interview was for O magazine, I believe. She said she was very happy even though she had lost her partner of 40 years. She said she became more open to meeting people because she was lonely and that has made her happier. She did not much like to be with people in her earlier days. Also, she said she had learned to put her childhood abuse behind her and that made her happier. If you can find it, I think you would enjoy it, EC.