Posts Tagged ‘21st Century American Poetry’

When I heard that Mary Oliver’s new poetry collection ‘Blue Horses’ has come out, I couldn’t wait to get it and read it. I read it in one breath. Here is what I think.

Blue Horses By Mary Oliver

‘Blue Horses’ has thirty-eight poems. They are on topics which are close to Mary Oliver’s heart – nature, plants, trees, flowers, animals, insects, seasons. There are also poems on love, art, yoga, spirituality and other everyday topics. Each poem is different – each has a different number of lines, some are short some are long, there is no consistency in terms of form and structure – but all of them are beautiful. If one is new to Mary Oliver, one would expect that at some point she would unfurl all the poetic pyrotechnics and dazzle the reader – something that might intimidate the non-specialist reader of poetry – but one would be wrong. Mary Oliver doesn’t bother with metre and rhyme and rhythm and alliteration and the iamb and the dactyl and the trochee. She just writes one beautiful poem after another in free verse which is accessible to the general reader and touches our hearts with beautiful images and thoughts and in the process makes it look so deceptively simple, like the best poets do.

I loved every poem in the book. Here are a few of my favourites.


What I Can Do


The television has two instruments that control it.

I get confused.

The washer asks me, do you want regular or delicate?

Honestly, I just want clean.

Everything is like that.

I won’t even mention cell phones.


I can turn on the light of the lamp beside my chair

where a book is waiting, but that’s about it.


Oh yes, and I can strike a match and make fire.



No Matter What


No matter what the world claims,

its wisdom always growing, so it’s said,

some things don’t alter with time :

the first kiss is a good example,

and the flighty sweetness of rhyme.


No matter what the world preaches

spring unfolds in its appointed time,

the violets open and the roses,

snow in its hour builds its shining curves,

there’s the laughter of children at play,

and the wholesome sweetness of rhyme.


No matter what the world does,

some things don’t alter with time.

The first kiss, the first death.

The sorrowful sweetness of rhyme.




If I Wanted a Boat


I would want a boat, if I wanted a

boat, that bounded hard on the waves,

that didn’t know starboard from port

and wouldn’t learn, that welcomed

dolphins and headed straight for the

whales, that, when rocks were close,

would slide in for a touch or two,

that wouldn’t keep land in sight and

went fast, that leaped into the spray.

What kind of life is it always to plan

and do, to promise and finish, to wish

for the near and the safe? Yes, by the

heavens, if I wanted a boat I would want

a boat I couldn’t steer.




Do Stones Feel?


Do stones feel?

Do they love their life?

Or does their patience drown out everything else?


When I walk on the beach I gather a few

white ones, dark ones, the multiple colors,

Don’t worry, I say, I’ll bring you back, and I do.


Is the tree as it rises delighted with its many


each one like a poem?


Are the clouds glad to unburden their bundles of rain?


Most of the world says no, no, it’s not possible.


I refuse to think to such a conclusion.

Too terrible it would be, to be wrong.

Have you read ‘Blue Horses’? What do you think about it? 

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Emily (from Books, the Universe and Everything)

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