This is one of those books I never would have picked up on my own, so thanks, Read Harder, for doing your job. I do not read much poetry at all, and that is because some that I have read in the past has been pretentious as hell or impenetrable, or both, but even when it hasn’t been, my favorite thing about reading is narrative, and most poetry doesn’t have that, so. I’d just rather spend my reading time on novels, and the very occasional novella or short story.
But this was a very good poetry collection. The opposite of pretentious. And far from being impenetrable, Oliver’s writing feels welcoming. Maybe mostly because this is a book about happiness and love, but also because that seems just to be her style.
A few of my favorites:
For Tom Shaw S.S.J.E. (1945-2014)
“Where has this cold come from?
“It comes from the death of your friend.”
Will I always, from now on, be this cold?
“No, it will diminish. But always it will be with you.”
What is the reason for it?
“Wasn’t your friendship always as beautiful as a flame?”
I did think, let’s go about this slowly.
This is important. This should take
some really deep thought. We should take
small thoughtful steps.
But, bless us, we didn’t.
Except for the body
of someone you love,
including all its expressions
in privacy and in public,
trees, I think,
are the most beautiful
forms on the earth.
if this were a contest,
the trees would come in
an extremely distant second.