I am sharing one of the books that I received this Christmas and which I read all throughout the New Year up until the first two weeks of January. It has become a tradition for me to read Mary Oliver at the beginning of the year. Somehow, her poetry grounds me, and allows me to let go of the year that had been and to welcome the year that is to come. Thank you to Mainely Write for hosting this week.
As we are celebrating different kinds of love until end of March, I find that Devotions is the perfect book for our current reading theme, as it is a love song to the wild outdoors, to life’s simplicity, and the quiet joys to be had in paying close attention to the world around us.
Poetry By: Mary Oliver
Published by: Penguin Press, 2017
ISBN: 0399563245 (ISBN13: 9780399563249). Book was gifted to me. Book photos taken by me.
It is no secret that we are all huge fans of Mary Oliver here at GatheringBooks, and we have featured most of her poems at one point. Her most recent book, Devotions, however, differs from her other poetry collections, as this one is massive – compiling selections from No Voyage And Other Poems, her very first book of poetry published when she was only 28 years old, up until her most recent one, Felicity, published in 2015.
I would have enjoyed reading a short Author’s Note, in the beginning, that explains why the book is curated the way it is (from the most recent to the earliest one published in 1963). I am certain that weeding out a few titles, while including a few others, must have involved a certain kind of creative process that guided her in highlighting these selected poems. It is clear, however, that each poem speaks of love and devotion, like little meditative prayers that helped me soak in the world around me and regard it differently, through her eyes.
Once again, Mary Oliver’s poetry has found me at the right moment, gripped my soul and squeezed honeydew and autumn leaves and wild geese out of it. Here are a few that moved me deeply. I’ve taken photos of some of the pages and edited them using an iPhone app – with the other poems, I used Typorama.
I am especially taken by her prose poetry. This message about joy not being made to be a crumb and to simply surrender to happiness, silenced me.
The image above is testament to how her poems sound, indeed, like devotions or prayers inviting the reader to be still, and to listen.
Reading Mary Oliver is always a visceral experience for me – it awakens my spirit and moves me to tears, in ways that are inexplicable. This is what beauty does, and yes, devotion.
The poem above also reminds me to sit back and soak in the sun with the full knowledge that all I need is right here, right now.
The two images below should be read as one poem, there is a text limit to Typorama, hence I needed to create two images for this poem entitled Peonies.
I am also at that point where I am seriously considering what is of value, what is meaningful, what should occupy the rest of my life – what is it that would make me want to get up in the morning and look at the world with the same awe and joy that I used to.
And finally, there is this:
Here’s to finding joy in simplicity this coming year, and welcoming it in abundance. May we all find grace in solitude and have the courage to embrace beauty and dance with the sun.