Blue Horses

On her Back in the Stacks blog, Cataloging Specialist Jan Hardy reviews Blue Horses, a book of poems from Mary Oliver.

Blue Horses (New York: Penguin Press, 2014) is a slight book of deceptively simple poems, “something/inexplicable/made plain” as Mary Oliver says in “What We Want.” It’s only when you think further into them that you realize these poems have a lot to say. Oliver’s spirituality, like her imagery, springs from the natural world and the senses. I can remember images from Oliver’s books I’ve read long ago, and I’ll remember these, too – the “fox on his feet of silk” (“The Fourth Sign of the Zodiac”) and the water “dashing its silver thumbs/against the rocks” of “Stebbin’s Gulch.”

Writing about nature realistically leads to writing about death as well, and Oliver opens her book with “The slippery green frog/that went to his death/in the heron’s pink throat” (“After Reading Lucretius, I Go to the Pond”). The poet accepts both the frog and the heron as her brothers, and ends “My heart dresses in black/and dances.” Oliver mentions other poets and thinkers like Lucretius, Rumi, and Whitman, but you don’t have to be a scholar to appreciate her poems, just like you don’t need a degree in biology to enter her landscapes.

Read more on the Back in the Stacks Blog.

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