In the following review, she finds in Oliver's Pulitzer Prize-winning collection both stunningly original and cliched elements.
Every jarful spills and makes the earth more shining, as though covered in satin.
If the man had seen even a tributary of the great river, he wouldn't have brought the innocence of his gift. Those that stay and live by the Tigris grow so ecstatic that they throw rocks at jugs, and the jugs become perfect!
The pieces dance, and water Neither jar, nor water, nor stone, nothing. You knock at the door of reality, shake your thought-wings, loosen and open. Rumi would also say it is there all along in each object, each "jar overfilled with wisdom and beauty. Yes, Mary Oliver certainly humbled herself when she said "I don't know what a prayer is," and asked the question, "Tell me what it is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
Thank you, Lisa, for the gift of this rich essay. Solzhenitzyn took it as the title of his Nobel Prize lecture. And yes, that would include the beauty of Christ and Buddha, and Moses taking off his sandals when standing on holy ground.
And if the poet is not creating beauty, and pronounces everything to be ruined, dead, devoid of meaning what Robert Johnson calls the Hamlet consciousnessthen the master, the larger self, is indeed sad.
We can call it prayer, we can call it meditation — ultimately it is a deeply human act that transcends all labels. Nothing we do will impress the Universe, but we keep on adding our drop of beauty. And that makes the master glad. Beauty will not save the world.
If it was going to, it would have done so long before now. I am not saying that there is less Beauty than there was or that Beauty today is in anyway inferior to previous Beauty.
I am just saying that there has probably always been Beauty and that it has always failed to save the world.
I think when a poet says something like "Beauty will save the world" what he is in fact saying is that "Beauty has saved me, and since it has saved a wretch like me, it surely will save a wretch like you and all the other wretches in the world.
Each said, "Beauty has saved me and if you do what I did you will be saved. I don't think so. And were Wordsworth and the others actually saved? Reading the biographies of these men and women suggest they weren't. Maybe what they meant was that "Beauty has saved me for a little while, or maybe just a bit.
I want to say, "Beauty will save the world," and believe it. I hope that tomorrow, when I wake up and look at the cold forests behind my house and the blue, autumn sky above it, I'll have forgotten this meditation on whether "Beauty will save the world.
But I also remember that after I learned a little German, and came to the forbidden conclusion that it was a beautiful language, the intense hatred of the Germans instilled into our whole generation was simply gone from my mind.
And I noticed that my father, who survived the war by a miracle one of his sisters died in a concentration camp; two other sisters survived the campsdid not hate the Germans. What comes to my mind is that he enjoyed reciting poems in German, and had fun with German curses which I also found wonderfully comical.
On the other hand, I also realize that for me beauty is the supreme value; only some people treasure beauty even half as much, or even a quarter as much. Never mind the wallpaper — and yet ugliness and violence do seem to be related.
I shuddered when I was driven through South Side Chicago. Hideous graffiti anywhere has the same effect on me. The ugliness itself seems to be violence. I wonder whether the sense of beauty can be developed in every human being. Likewise with hikers in the mountains, with their charming friendliness.
Mary Oliver holds the unfashionable belief in beauty and its ability to elevate the soul.Mary Oliver is, perhaps, best known for her poetry, and this book is mostly essays. But, I prefer essay form, so this book really suited me.
Oliver reflects on the natural world in a way that often turns the universal from the ordinary. So begins Upstream, a collection of essays in which revered poet Mary Oliver reflects on her willingness, as a young child and as an adult, to lose herself within the beauty and mysteries of both the natural world and the world of literature.
Oliver has compiled a very good selection of essays about favorite writers (Poe, Whitman, Wordsworth), favorite places (Provincetown), nature (owls, the pine woods of the Cape), and aging. Mary Oliver Issues A Full-Throated Spiritual Autobiography In 'Upstream' Fresh Air October 18, • Oliver's latest collection of essays reflect the author's passion for nature and literature.
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Mary Oliver's writing sees the best in us as human beings. It inspires me to look with more care than before, to savor just a moment longer. Her innate patience is admirable, and reading her poetry and her essays convinces me that she is a lovely person to know.