By Mary Oliver
(Beacon Press (MA), Hardcover, 9780807068960, 71pp.)
Publication Date: October 2006
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Thirst, a collection of forty-three new poems from the Pulitzer Prize-winner Mary Oliver, introduces two new directions in the poet's work. Grappling with grief at the death of her beloved partner of over forty years, she strives to experience sorrow as a path to spiritual progress, grief as part of loving and not its end. And within these pages she chronicles for the first time her discovery of faith, without abandoning the love of the physical world that has been a hallmark of her work for four decades. In three stunning long poems, Oliver explores the dimensions and tests the parameters of religious doctrine, asking of being good, for example, "To what purpose? / Hope of Heaven? Not that. But to enter / the other kingdom: grace, and imagination, / and the multiple sympathies: to be as a leaf, a rose,/ a dolphin."
Mary Oliver moves by instinct, faith, and determination. She is among out finest poets, and still growing.--Alicia Ostriker, The Nation
"These are life-enhancing and redemptive poems that coax the sublime from the subliminal."--Sally Connolly, Poetry
"It has always seemed, across her 15 books of poetry, five of prose and several essays and chapbooks, that Mary Oliver might leave us at any minute. Even a 1984 Pulitzer Prize couldn't pin her to the ground. She'd change quietly into a heron or a bear and fly or walk on forever. Her poems contain windows, doors, transformations, hints on how to escape the body; there's the 'glamour of death' and the 'life after the earth-life.' This urge to be transformed is yoked to a joy in this moment, this life, this body. 'Every day I walk out into the world / to be dazzled, then to be reflective,' she writes in 'Long Afternoon at the Edge of Little Sister Pond.' 'I think there isn't anything in this world I don't / admire,' she writes in 'Hum'…The new poems teem with creation: ravens, bees, hawks, box turtles, bears. The landscape is Thoreauvian: ponds, marsh, grass and cattails; New England's 'salt brightness'; and fields in 'pale twilight.'"--Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times
"I think of Oliver as a fierce, uncompromising lyricist, a loyalist of the marshes. Hers is a voice we desperately need."--Maxine Kumin, Women's Review of Books