The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver

eBook - 2017
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mary Oliver presents a personal selection of her best work in this definitive collection spanning more than five decades of her esteemed literary career. Throughout her celebrated career, Mary Oliver has touched countless readers with her brilliantly crafted verse, expounding on her love for the physical world and the powerful bonds between all living things. Identified as "far and away, this country's best selling poet" by Dwight Garner, she now returns with a stunning and definitive collection of her writing from the last fifty years. Carefully curated, these 200 plus poems feature Oliver's work from her very first book of poetry, No Voyage and Other Poems , published in 1963 at the age of 28, through her most recent collection, Felicity , published in 2015. This timeless volume, arranged by Oliver herself, showcases the beloved poet at her edifying best. Within these pages, she provides us with an extraordinary and invaluable collection of her passionate, perceptive, and much-treasured observations of the natural world.
Publisher: 2017
ISBN: 9780399563256
Branch Call Number: DOWNLOADABLE eBOOK
Characteristics: 1 online resource
data file,rda

Related Resources


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Aug 18, 2020

Mary Oliver is the most grounded poet I know. I find reading her work to be like sipping clear, pure spring water from an earthenware vessel on a summer’s day — the very stuff of reality. This generous volume of well over 200 delightful poems offers a perspective, both broad and deep, of Mary Oliver’s life work; and how her voice and moods varied over a span of more than 50 years. At times, she seems to have been feeling very close to God, at other times close to despair at the obstinacy and waste of our world bent on “progress”. Always, her voice rings with fundamental truth; her facility for stating the simplest and most fundamental things is unmatched among the poets of our day.
Here I find phrases that are so apt, so pungent that they stick in my mind. In “Hum”, about bees, she writes:
I think there isn’t anything in this world I don’t
admire. If there is, I don’t know what it is. I
haven’t met it yet. Nor expect to.
In “The Orchard”, contemplating the cycle of life and work she writes:
I have dreamed of accomplishment. I have fed
ambition. I have traded nights of sleep
for a length of work. Lo, and I have discovered how soft bloom
turns to green fruit which turns to sweet fruit. Lo, and I have discovered
all winds blow cold at last, and the leaves,
so pretty, so many, vanish in the great, black
packet of time, in the great, black packet of ambition,
and the ripeness of the apple is its downfall.
In “Sometimes” I think she summed up her values and her beliefs most succinctly:
Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.
And there’s so much more, poems to enjoy again and again.

Jul 15, 2020

Poem: The poet compares human nature to the sea

Apr 20, 2020

please change hold date to May 4 2020 or thereafter.

Mar 26, 2020

Before Mary Oliver died, I had read some of her poems online, but never one of her books of poetry--which seems crazy for a creative writing major-poet. After her death, I bought Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver, and spent the next year reading it. I love poetry. I love reading it, writing it, memorizing it, reciting it, studying it, discussing it-- anything. I finished Devotions in this time of social distancing, on one of the first times we’d seen the sun in a week as it felt like the world was falling apart around us. For me, poetry reassures that the world’s not ending. That’s exactly what Devotions has done for me in the last year. My 400+ pages (of my personal copy) are dog-eared, underlined, and annotated as I read through pieces from Oliver’s 50+ years of writing. The collection starts with her 2015 last book of poetry, and then works back to her first book of poetry from 1963. But you can find all of this out from the book jacket. What’s important about Devotions is not that Oliver won a Pulitzer Prize during her career, or her National Book Award. What makes it special are the ways she takes the natural world and makes it holy. Throughout the volume, Oliver teaches readers about how to live a life that is thankful, thoughtful, kind, and wondrous. Even if you thought you only liked poetry that rhymes--or that poetry is required to rhyme--you’ll discover the conversational beauty in Oliver’s unstructured lines. I want to end with a quotation from “Don’t Hesitate,” which comes early in Devotions: “Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this / is its way of fighting back, that sometimes / something happens better than all the riches / or power in the world…// …don’t be afraid / of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.” To me, “Don’t Hesitate,” and all of Devotions, is about recognizing that love and joy are all around us if we are open to them. We fight back against fear by embracing joy, our connections to each other, and the wonder of the world around us.

Nov 24, 2019

The poem "The Summer Day" selected and read by WHUUF member Felicity Shoulders on 11/24/19 prior to her message, "First, Observe: Permaculture and Paying Attention."

JCLCherylMY May 05, 2018

Mary Oliver is one of my favorite poets. This book contains 200 of her personal favorites spanning 50 years from her oldest work to the most recent. Highly recommend to the seasoned Oliver lover or as an introduction to her wonderful talents.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at NWPL

To Top