The Holds Rush In
Welcoming the Unexpected

For Poetry & Nature Admirers: Mary Oliver's "Evidence"

Evidence: Poems by Mary Oliver
Beacon Press, 2009
Age range: Adults

If you're a poetry fan and a nature lover, I've got a new book for you: Mary Oliver's Evidence. It's full of many wonderful lines, like these from the title work: "I believe in kindness. Also in mischief. Also in/singing, especially when singing is not necessarily/prescribed."

The poem that affected me the most, though, was "At the Pond," which ran originally at Orion Magazine and can be read online here. Oliver writes, "Nature has many mysteries,/some of them severe." A beautiful poem about "a huddle of just-hatched geese," it surely evokes sighs at readings.

Evidence is written for grown-ups, and aging is one of its themes. ("How did it come to be/that I am no longer young?") But it's very accessible work, and poetry-inclined teenagers ought to like it, too.

On July 5th, the New York Times' travel section ran this piece: "The Land and Words of Mary Oliver, the Bard of Provincetown," which includes a slide show and recordings of Oliver reading "At Blackwater Pond" and "The Sun." Mary Duenwald, who wrote the article, advises, 

Follow Ms. Oliver’s lead to the edges of Blackwater Pond and you can have something approaching a primal experience of Cape Cod. You won’t be alone, especially in summer, when crowds gather to see the locally beloved water lilies that blanket the ponds. But that’s why it pays to go at dawn, as the poet prefers to do.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Oh thank you for this recommendation! My birthday is next week and this goes to the top of my list.

Susan! You're going to love it. Happy birthday, too.

Great review! I'll be on the lookout for this!

This is lovely. I do really like Mary Oliver, and am so grateful to have been introduced to her via Poetry Fridays.

Thanks, Kelly. I am enjoying re-reading the poems, too, and checked out a book of Mary Oliver's essays at the library today. One thing leads to another...

Tanita, me, too. One of the aspects of Oliver's writing that I enjoy so much is her gratitude. It's inspiring.

Thanks for the heads-up. There's always room for more Mary Oliver on my poetry shelf!

Mary Lee, I just read another one by Mary Oliver that made me laugh with its delightful ending--Carrying the Snake to the Garden, from Long Life. Have you read it? Wonderful.

How did I miss that Mary Oliver is an Ohio author?!?!?

I don't know Carrying the Snake..., but Long Life is now on reserve from the library, along with Evidence, and an audio recording of Oliver reading her work.

I'll report back...

Maybe because she has lived in Provincetown, MA, for so long.

I look forward to your report!

Ooh! I didn't know about this. Will look for it at my library. Thank you.

Jules, I am really enjoying it!

Okay. So this is really embarrassing. I got to the library to pick up Long Life...and I realized I already own it!

Love Carrying the Snake...I probably wouldn't have been that calm about grabbing it up!

Mary Lee, that's hilarious. I've had that happen to me, too. I LOVED the part about the snake looking like it was about to sing. Such a delightful image.

its fantasic i am just enjoying dis great

Glad you like it! So do I.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)