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Thursday, May 05, 2005

Oliver and excursions into lushness

from "May" by Mary Oliver (American Primitive)

May, and among miles of leafing
blossoms storm out of the darkness --
windflowers and moccasin flowers. The bees
dive into them and I too, to gather
their spiritual honey.

I've been reading Mary Oliver again, marveling at the way she navigates the lushness of nature and poetry without tipping over into sentiment. It's interesting to observe that at an early stage in her career, she decided to leave people out of her poems almost entirely. After the above Pulitzer-winning book (her fourth), the human population thins to a single observer. Animals appear, but no more pets. Nothing and no one appears as an object of attachment, perhaps the better to enable the slimmed-down consciousness of the observer to dispassionately record a brutal beauty amid the lush.

Her dispassion reminds me oddly of Wallace Stevens. Though she is against the verbal pyrothechnics he so lavishly devised -- having reportedly once said you should never use a word in a poem you wouldn't hear in a grocery store, or something like that -- she has the same fascination with the facets of existence, turning them this was and that through her writing. Intense scrutiny and intenser analysis.

On another note, what is this annoying thing that's happening in blogger, which doesn't allow me to select words to format or create links? On top of my current computer melt-down, it makes me feel persecuted by the gods of machinery.
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