Category Archives: Oliver (Mary)

A Time To Gather Spiritual Honey

Mary Oliver love flowers because of their origins in dark places and for their ability to make luminous our own dark places.

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Battered by a Raging Stormy

Stormy Daniels’s power over Donald Trump brings to mind various literary storms, such as Lear’s and those described by Mary Oliver and H.D.

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Bone-Crushing Prince of Dark Days

Trump regards Special Counsel Robert Mueller as the crows view the owl in Mary Oliver’s “In the Pine Woods: Crows and Owl.”

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Clean Rooms, Despair of the Mind

Mary Oliver’s “University Hospital, Boston” captures my experience of having a friend in a hospital. Oliver understands the various ironies involved.

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The Fires and the Black River of Loss

We recently held a memorial service for my dear friend and colleague Kate Chandler. I read from some of Kate’s eloquent nature writings and concluded with a Mary Oliver poem.

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Absent from This World, Alive in Another

As is traditional with this blog, we share a Mary Oliver poem about a magical encounter with a deer–which recalls Mary Magdalene’s magical encounter with Jesus in the garden.

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Ollie the Bobcat, Whirlwind of Light

Yann Martel’s “Life of Pi” helps explain why Ollie, the bobcat who escaped from the National Zoo, returned on her own. Her time in the spotlight gives me an excuse to share a pulsating bobcat poem by Mary Oliver.

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Wander Slowly through the Forest

In this nature poem Mary Oliver tells us to open ourselves to “God or the gods,” to listen for “the words that will never leave God’s mouth,” to linger in the wind and the rain and to wander slowly through forests,

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Stillness, One of the Doors of the Temple

The Biblical story where Jesus visits the home of Mary and Martha can be read as an injunction to eschew busyness and focus on God. This Mary Oliver poem captures the spirit of such a lesson.

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Pope Foresaw GOP Capitulation to Trump

Alexander Pope warned, in “Essay on Man” that vice loses its ugliness once it becomes familiar. This is the danger we face with the normalization of Donald Trump.

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To Save the World, Know Your Habitat

In his book “Neurobiology and the Development of Human Morality,” Darcia Navaez talks about the importance of knowing our habitat if we are to develop an eco-morality. Poets like Wendell Berry and Mary Oliver help show us the way.

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A White Cross Streaming across the Sky

Today’s Easter poem is Mary Oliver’s “The Swan,” in which everything suddenly becomes clear.

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Introducing a New Genre: Cli-Fi

Weather disappeared largely from literature when it was seen unrealted to the actions of humans. With climate change now upon us, however, a new literary genre has arisen.

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Hearing the Sound of Roses Singing

For Mary Oliver, going into the woods and paying attention to nature is a form of prayer.

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In April, Frogs Shout Their Desire

In this Mary Oliver poem, frogs shout their desire and people aren’t far behind.

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Why Read Lit? Let Me Count the Reasons

I grapple today about why it is essential to read lit. And what happens to us when we don’t.

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Out of the Blackness Every Morning

Many of Mary Oliver’s poems, including “The Sun,” function well as Easter poems.

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Pesticides vs. Sweetness and Wings

Monarch butterflies and bees are in grave danger. Poems by Scott Bates and Mary Oliver remind us what we will lose if we don’t move to protect them.

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The Peace of Wild Things

My Intro to Literature class explored how a disconnect from nature leads to existential anguish while opening themselves up to nature provides spiritual nourishment.

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Hunkering Down in Hard Times

When your side loses in an election, be like Mary Oliver’s blue heron: hunker down, absorb the blows, and keep the fire of hope burning.

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Something Different Crosses the Threshold

Mary Oliver gives a powerful reading of Jesus calming the storm.

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Blossoms Storm out of the Darkness

A perfect May poem from Mary Oliver.

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Seahawks: Unleashed, Endlessly Hungry

Mary Oliver’s poem about hunting hawks about sums up last night’s Super Bowl.

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Poem for Coping with Depression

Mary Oliver’s “Poem for a Blue Heron” is a hopeful but realistic poem about coping with depression.

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What Extreme Cold Teaches Us

As Coleridge and Mary Oliver teach us, when we are trapped in extreme cold, we come to value life.

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How to Make Your Dull Life Seem Magical

Does your life seem one long grind? Let Mary Oliver help you see it differently?

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On Loving and Letting Go

Mary Oliver’s “In Blackwater Woods” instructs us in how to live and how to die.

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In Solitary Others We See Ourselves

When a Maine hermit is arrested after 27 years in solitude, we project our stories upon him.

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Your One Wild and Precious Life

Mary Oliver’s celebration of summer is a prayer operates as a prayer of gratitude.

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Dare to Be Happy, Dare to Pray

Mary Oliver finds hope even for those weighed down by the thorn of depression.

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My Father in the Hospital

A Mary Oliver poems captures my fears about my father, currently hospitalized.

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  • Literature is as vital to our lives as food and shelter. Stories and poems help us work through the challenges we face, from everyday irritations to loneliness, heartache, and death. Literature is meant to mix it up with life. This website explores how it does so.

    Please feel free to e-mail me [rrbates (at) smcm (dot) edu]. I would be honored to hear your thoughts and questions about literature.

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