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Blue Horses: Poems by Mary Oliver

Blue Horses: Poems (2014)

by Mary Oliver

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176899,468 (4.27)70



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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
I have returned to poetry after decades away. Just getting acquainted with Mary Oliver. I am delighted with the simplicity of her words and with the depth of her observations. ( )
  beebeereads | May 3, 2018 |
By far my favorite poet and a solid collection. The tile (and one poem in the collection) refer to Franz Marc, the German Expressionist with a penchant for painting blue horses.

Oliver writes of nature, alludes to philosophy and religion, describes the experience of age, cancer, loss, hope, and self-consciously about poetry. ( )
  Jamichuk | May 22, 2017 |
Great writing! ( )
  AR_bookbird | Mar 23, 2016 |
Mixed feelings about poetry.
You can say whatever you want, and
don’t have to make any sense.
Leaves everything to the imagination.
Can say a lot with very few words.
The spacing is important in the poems’ rhythm and effect – different from a few sentences strung together on a random topic.
Notable use of contractions throughout – more like speech, but also another rhythmic effect.
This is her talking to you, or to herself but you’re welcome to listen in.

Note: I won a copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads. ( )
  MattCembrola | Nov 27, 2015 |
Mary Oliver is quickly becoming one of my favorite poets. Her latest collection, Blue Horses, pleases the eye and ear every bit as much as all of her previous works I have read.

As is true of many of her poems, Oliver focuses on nature. The selections in this collection, however, seem quite a bit more philosophical than most of the others I have experienced. For example, the first poem in the collection combines these two ideas. In “After Reading Lucretius, I Go to the Pond,” Oliver writes, “The slippery green frog / that went to his death / in the heron’s pink throat / was my small brother, // and the heron / with the white plumes / like a crown on his heard / who is washing now his great sword-beak / in the shining pond / is my tall brother. // My heart dresses in black / and dances” (1).

I also love the humor in her poems, particularly “First Yoga Lesson.” “‘Be a lotus in the pond,’” she said, “‘opening / slowly, no single energy tugging / against another but peacefully, / all together’.” // I couldn’t even touch my toes. / “‘Feel your quadriceps stretching?’” she asked. / Well, something was certainly stretching. // Standing impressively upright, she / raised one leg and placed it against / the other, then lifted her arms and / shook her hands like leaves. “Be a tree,’” she said. // I lay on the floor, exhausted. / But to be a lotus in the pond / opening slowly, and very slowly rising -- / that I could do” (7).

As always, Oliver’s poems contain vivid images, which take the reader onto the floor, on a mat, stretching. She accomplishes this feat over and over with the plainest of language. I can’t get enough of her way with words.

When I found Blue Horses, I noticed a slim volume by Oliver nearby: A Poetry Handbook. I am so sorry I missed this explication of all the intricacies of poetry originally published in 1994. I recommend this slim volume for anyone interested in poetry. I found her Introduction highly informative. Here a few random paragraphs. Oliver writes, “Everyone knows that poets are born and not made in school. This is true also of painters, sculptors, and musicians. Something that is essential can’t be taught; it can only be given, or earned, or formulated in a manner too mysterious to be picked apart and redesigned for the next person. // Still, painters, sculptors, and musicians require a lively acquaintance with the history of their particular field and with past as well as current theories and techniques. And the same is true of poets. Whatever can’t be taught, there is a great deal that can, and must be learned.” Oliver says she wrote this book, “in an effort to give the student a variety of technical skills -- that is options. It is written to empower the beginning writer who stands between two marvelous and complex things – an experience (or an idea or a feeling), and the urge to tell about it in the best possible conjunction of words.

Just a smidgeon over 200 pages, these two works by Mary Oliver – Blue Horses: Poems and A Poetry Handbook – are excellent starting points for those curious about what makes a poem a poem and handy guides for those who want to sharpen their skills. Both 5 stars

--Jim, 12/31/14 ( )
  rmckeown | Jan 2, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
Oliver has long been America’s bestselling poet, and these latest conversational poems show why you can find her work on shelves across the United States.
There’s beauty and sweetness in Blue Horses’ pages. Some of it necessary.
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If you don't break your ropes while you're alive/
do you think/
ghosts will do it after?
For Anne Taylor
First words
The slippery green frog/
that went to his death/
in the heron's pink throat/
was my small brother,

The television has two instruments that control it.
I get confused.
The washer asks me, do you want regular or delicate?
Honestly, I just want clean.
Everything is like that.
I won't even mention cell phones.

I can turn on the light of the lamp beside my chair
where a book is waiting, but that's about it.

Oh yes, and I can strike a match and make fire.

"Be a lotus in the pond," she said, "opening
slowly, no single energy tugging
against another but peacefully,
all together."

I couldn't even touch my toes.
"Feel your quadriceps stretching?" she asked.
Well, something was certainly stretching.

Standing impressively upright, she
raised one leg and placed it against
the other, then lifted her arms and
shook her hands like leaves, "Be a tree," she said.

I lay on the floor, exhausted.
But to be a lotus in the pond
opening slowly, and very slowing rising—
that I could do.

As deep as I ever went into the forest
I came upon an old stone bench, very, very old,
and around it a clearing, and beyond that
trees taller and older than I had ever seen.

Such silence!
It really wasn't so far from a town, but it seemed
all the clocks in the world had stopped counting.
So it was hard to suppose the usual rules applied.

Sometimes there's only a hint, a possibility.
What's magical, sometimes, has deeper roots
than reason.
I hope everyone knows that.

I sat on the bench, waiting for something.
An angel, perhaps,
Or dancers with the legs of goats.

No, I didn't see either. But only, I think, because
I didn't stay long enough.
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The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of American Primitive presents a new collection of poems that reflects her signature imagery-based language and her observations of the unaffected beauty of nature.--Publisher's description.

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