Never afraid to shed the pretense of academic poetry, never shy of letting the power of an image lie in unadorned language, Mary Oliver offers us poems of arresting beauty that reflect on the power of love and the great gifts of the natural world. Inspired by the familiar lines from William Wordsworth, “To me the meanest flower that blows can give / Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears,” she uncovers the evidence presented to us daily by nature, in rivers and stones, willows and field corn, the mockingbird’s “embellishments,” or the last hours of darkness.
Born in a small town in Ohio,Mary Oliverpublished her first book of poetry in 1963 at the age of 28. Over the course of her long career, she has received numerous awards. Her fourth book,American Primitive, won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1984. She has led workshops and held residencies at various colleges and universities, including Bennington College, where she held the Catharine Osgood Foster Chair for Distinguished Teaching. Oliver resided in Florida until her death in 2019.