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Long Life: Essays and Other Writings (2004)

by Mary Oliver

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243586,198 (3.98)19
Poets must read and study, but also they must learn to tilt and whisper, shout, or dance, each in his or her own way, or we might just as well copy the old books. But, no, that would never do, for always the new self swimming around in the old world feels itself uniquely verbal. And that is just the point: how the world, moist and bountiful, calls to each of us to make a new and serious response. That's the big question, the one the world throws at you every morning. 'Here you are, alive. Would you like to make a comment?' This book is my comment.--from the Foreword.… (more)
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» See also 19 mentions

Showing 5 of 5
This quirky collection of essays and poems gives some insight into the private life of poet Mary Oliver, probably best known for her poems about nature. She and her partner, Molly Malone Cook, lived in Provincetown for many years, and several of the essays include home anecdotes with M. or descriptions of the Cape Cod area. As is typical in a collection of this sort, I really liked some essays, a few left me cold, and some were just okay. In such an eclectic collection, the ones which surprised me the most at their inclusion were the three introductions to works of Emerson and Hawthorne. It felt a little bit like she had a deadline she was trying to make and not a lot of material - though, to be fair, it did make me borrow one of Hawthorne's collections from the library, and Oliver herself begins the collection by explaining why she'd rather writer poetry than prose. All in all, I enjoyed it. ( )
  bell7 | May 31, 2021 |
Beautifully written. Easy to dip in and out of, but each bit I read is like a short, sharp-aired walk in the mountains.
1 vote devafagan | Jan 2, 2015 |
I haven't read an abundance of Ms. Oliver's poetry, but what I have read, I love. The problem that I had with this book (and that problem is simply my own, most likely) is that it is such a hodgepodge of stuff. It doesn't claim to be anything more than that, so again, it's my problem, I'm sure, but I cannot rate it more highly because I wanted there to be more cohesion between the things that were brought together in the book. It is a collection of essays and poems. But they are all over the place. Some pieces on nature, some pieces on life at home with her partner, some pieces about life with dogs, and some things about Emerson and Hawthorne... it was just too broad of scope for me. (I guess it was the stuff on the other writers that felt out of place. Had I skipped that, the rest would have been quite comfortably cohesive.)

I'll turn to her poetry for further reading. ( )
  KinnicChick | Sep 20, 2010 |
Long Life is a collection of autobiographical musings and republished essays from a Cape Cod poet. This is the sort of stuff ones takes to the beach or the airport: nature-y vignettes. ( )
  bexaplex | Jun 27, 2010 |
Does it bother Mary Oliver that her sense of nature is so simple? That it is so easy to achieve the lyricism she is after? (Really, it’s easy. She says she works hard, and I don’t doubt her, but these are easy to read, easy to see through.) Compare Gary Snyder on the subject of nature, or Cold Mountain, Basho, or Wallace Stevens: they are sharper, harder, riskier, deeper. Simple, but not simpleminded about poetry. Oliver polishes already smooth ideas. ( )
  JimElkins | Jul 23, 2009 |
Showing 5 of 5
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Poets must read and study, but also they must learn to tilt and whisper, shout, or dance, each in his or her own way, or we might just as well copy the old books. But, no, that would never do, for always the new self swimming around in the old world feels itself uniquely verbal. And that is just the point: how the world, moist and bountiful, calls to each of us to make a new and serious response. That's the big question, the one the world throws at you every morning. 'Here you are, alive. Would you like to make a comment?' This book is my comment.--from the Foreword.

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