Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Blue Horses: Poems by Mary Oliver

I woke
and crept
like a cat

on silent feet
about my own house ...

I have already read a book of poetry today. It is a small book, I admit, but it is tremendous. I checked it out from the library at the last moment last night to have another book for the two-day holiday. I woke just before 2:00 a.m., crept from bed and read a bit, then I woke again to read a little more at 4:30 a.m. I finished the collection at breakfast. The book is Blue Horses: Poems by Mary Oliver, from which the lines above came.

In Blue Horses, Oliver speaks her mind with humor and compassion. As I read the poems, I could imagine them all put together into a sort of one-woman show that would be appropriate for stage or perhaps on PBS's Great Performances. As she would read her poems, we would see stills and videos of the woods and wildlife about whom she frequently writes. We'd also see her at home, perhaps at her window looking out. It would be spellbinding to listen to her define our world and how to live in it.

The book title Blue Horses refer to her poem "Franz Marc's Blue Horses" in which she tells about the art and death of the young artist in World War I.

I do not know how to thank you, Franz Marc.
Maybe our world will grow kinder eventually. 
Maybe the desire to make something beautiful 
is the piece of God that is inside each of us.

As a bird lover, I appreciate Oliver's frequent avian references that include a heron, kingfisher, mockingbird, wren, vulture, song sparrow, bluebird, and a variety of hummingbirds. She observes frogs and wasps and expresses a wonder for rocks. Her poems resonate with people who would gladly spend much of their time in wild settings. I hope many of them find Blue Horses under their trees this Christmas.

Oliver, Mary. Blue Horses: Poems. Penguin Press, 2014. 79p. ISBN 9781594204791.

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