Sunday, August 13, 2006

Mary Oliver marginalia

I am loathe to dissect Mary Oliver's writing. It's one of those nonsense things: if I put her writing under the scope, it will lose its magic, the quality that makes it so transparently wonderful. But some things have to be done. (Some have already done this and you can find their thoughts at the Academy of American Poets.)

I'm Reading House of Light now. geez I love her writing so. There's a moment of settling in before the ride takes off - sometimes only the first line is needed. Or if I'm distracted, a few lines or even the poem itself must be read a second time. Then it happens. I am one with the word, the image; the transference occurs. The least modifier strikes home to me, the word "sweet" carries connotations even beyond her intentions. Or maybe not. It's a state of being, reading Mary Oliver.

But what I've observed in House of Light:

  • Oliver will describe tersely and often uses figurative language (metaphor, simile) to describe the modifier.
  • Oliver uses a story as a path to an "answer"
  • The words "river," "heart," "flower," and "trees" predominate her poems, at least one appearing in almost every poem.

Nothing high brow... Just a few thoughts.

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