Understand, I am always trying to figure out
what the soul is,
and where hidden,
and what shape-
New and Selected Poems, Volume Two, an anthology of forty-two new poems-an entire volume in itself-and sixty-nine poems hand-picked by Mary Oliver from six of her last eight books, is a major addition to a career in poetry that has spanned nearly five decades. Now recognized as an unparalleled poet of the natural world, Mary Oliver writes with unmatched dexterity and a profound appreciation for the divergence and convergence of all living things.
Mary Oliver is always searching for the soul of things. In poem after poem, her investigations go from the humble green bean that nourishes her and makes her wonder if "something/-I can't name it-watches as I walk the/rows, accepting the gift of their lives/to assist mine" to the vast, untouchable bliss of "things you can't reach./But you can reach out to them, and all day long./The wind, the bird flying away./The idea of God." Oliver's search grows and is informed by experience, meditation, perception, and discernment. And all the while, during her quest, she is constantly surprised and fortified by joy.
This graceful volume, designed to be paired with New and Selected Poems, Volume One, includes new poems on birds, toads, flowers, insects, bodies of water, and the extraordinary experience of the everyday in our lives. In the words of Alicia Ostriker,'Mary Oliver moves by instinct, faith, and determination. She is among our finest poets, and still growing.' In both the older and new poems, Mary Oliver is a poet at the height of her control of image and language.
It has always seemed, across her 15 books of poetry, five of prose and several essays and chapbooks, that Mary Oliver might leave us at any minute. Even a 1984 Pulitzer Prize couldn't pin her to the ground. She'd change quietly into a heron or a bear and fly or walk on forever. —Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times
"Oliver's poetry is of the Earth, and about the Earth, and as these poems give voice to the planet, they render human life more beautiful, more sentient, more meaningful." —Karen McCarthy, ForeWord
"These are life-enhancing and redemptive poems that coax the sublime from the subliminal." —Sally Connolly, Poetry
"Mary's Oliver poetry is fine and deep; it reads like a blessing. Her special gift is to connect us with our sources in the natural world, its beauties and terrors and mysteries and consolations." —Stanley Kunitz
"Oliver's poems are thoroughly convincing—as genuine, moving, and implausible as the first caressing breeze of spring." —New York Times Book Review