Poems and Essays
By Mary Oliver
Beacon Press (MA), Hardcover, 9780807068823, 75pp.
Publication Date: September 2004
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For poet Mary Oliver, nature is full of mystery and miracle. From the excitation of birds in the sky to the flowers and plants that are "the simple garments" of the earth, the natural world is her text of both the earth's changes and its permanence.
In Blue Iris, Mary Oliver collects ten new poems, two dozen of her poems written over the last two decades, and two previously unpublished essays on the beauty and wonder of plants. The poet considers roses, of course, as well as poppies and peonies; lilies and morning glories; the thick-bodied black oak and the fragrant white pine; the tall sunflower and the slender bean.
James Dickey has said of her, "Far beneath the surface-flash of linguistic effect, Mary Oliver works her quiet and mysterious spell. It is a true spell, unlike any other poet's, the enchantment of the true maker." In Blue Iris, she has captured with breathtaking clarity the true enchantment and mysterious spell of flowers and plants of all sorts and their magnetic hold on us.
Blue Iris fortuitously offers an extended sequence and new contexts for a writer whose precise eye and instinct for surprising images have made her one of the best practitioners of the lyrical revelation . . . Oliver's often quiet persona almost always rides a storm of discovery . . . Oliver continues to earn applause and admiration for continuing to provide redemptive mediation and supple praises for nature in a time when so much is under threat. —R. T. Smith, Shenandoah
"A thematic bouquet about plants and the creatures that live among them . . . Punctuated by illustrations derived from electronically scanned flower specimens, it is a handsome book filled with excellent work." —Jay Rogoff, Southern Review
"These 32 poems and four essays offer rich meditations on flowers in nature, showing how plant life reflects the life of the human heart . . . A companion to Oliver's recent Owls and Other Fantasies: Poems and Essays, this work presents poetry in free verse, which Oliver has perfected in all of its musicality and rhythm." —Library Journal