Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Owls and Other Fantasies

Mary Oliver is certainly a name to know when it comes to modern poetry. Her work is new, but she writes as an old soul. Owls and Other Fantasies is a prime example.

Reading Oliver's work reminded me of reading Emerson or Whitman. She has that deep appreciation of nature. Oliver looks at the beauty around her a bit deeper than most people do. For example she writes in her poem "Spring," "...My, in his/black-feckled vest, bay body with/red trim and sudden chrome/underwings, his is/dapper..." Her description of this bird is so detailed that a reader can easily picture him. She goes on to describe this bird's courtship with a female and the beauty of the circle of life that is present each spring. This is just one example of the beauty of Oliver's writing.

Oliver's poetry is gentle and unforced. She examines the beauty of nature as well as some of the darker sides of life. "Hawk," my favorite poem in this collection, is one that examines the darker side. This poem battles the ideas of religion with the natural order of the world. Upon seeing the hawk perched alert on top of a tree, Oliver writes "and I said: remember/this is not something/of the red fire, this is/heaven's fistful/of death and destruction." She refers again to religion later on in the poem by writing, "and I said: remember/the tree, the cave,/the white lily of resurrection." In the end, she desribes the hawk: "seemed to crouch high in the air, and then it/turned into a white blade, which fell."

Owls and Other Fantasies would be a great suggestion to someone who enjoys poetry about nature. This would also be a great suggestion for someone who isn't sure about reading more classic poetry. I feel Oliver's writing would be a good stepping stone into the "harder" classics.

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