"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Review: EVIDENCE by Mary Oliver

Evidence: Poems by Mary Oliver arrived in my car truck when the library started curbside checkouts last week. It was part of a big haul of books, totaling fifteen books in all. Apparently one mustn't sit at home during a pandemic and blithely place holds on all the library books one wants or they will all arrive at once. Out of the haul I plucked this small volume of poems to read first, my soul felt just parched in need of a long drink of refreshment by my favorite poet.

Parts of just about every poem spoke to me. It always seems that Oliver is talking about one thing when suddenly she is talking about something much broader and more universal like this in the poem "Swans": What we love, shapely and pure, / is not to be held, / but to be believed in. (3)

I've been thinking about end-of-life scenarios because of all the deaths due to COVID-10 these days. My husband and I even filled out medical advanced directive statements recently. Just in case. In   "Thinking of Swirler" Oliver reminds us that even with the best of intentions, one's life is precious: In my house these are a hundred half-done poems. / Each of us leaves an unfinished life. (9)

But in "Then Bluebird Sang" she helps us remember to awaken every morning to the joys of nature...The birds, the brook, "and the rustle / that greet me whereever I go / with their joyful cry: I'm still here, alive!" (12)

Usually Oliver's poems point us to beauty of nature but all of them cause us to reflect on our lives. In
"Spring" she reminds us of the creator: Faith / is the instructor. / We need no other... / Of course I am thinking / the Lord was once young / and will never in fact be old. / And who else could this be, who goes off / down the green path, / carrying his sandals, and singing? (15)

In "More Honey Locust" she reminds me to prayerful and thankful for all the world has to hold:
...and I hope that you too / will say a word of thanks / for such creation / out of the wholesome earth, / which would be, and dearly it is needed, / a prayer for all of us. (18)

The poem "Halleluiah" was written for anyone who had a hard start in life. The line, Halleluiah, anyway I'm not where I started (19), should be our mantra. I'm not where I want to be but I am sure farther along than where I started!

My favorite poem in the collection is the book's title, "Evidence". It is divided into three parts with little pieces of wisdom and evidence of our good world, or how we should live:
  • ...Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.
  • ...And consider, always, every day, the determination / of the grass to grow despite the unending obstacles.
  • ...I ask you again: if you have not been enchanted by / this adventure--your life--what would do for you?
  • ...What blackboard could ever be invented that could hold all the zeros of eternity?
Reading this collection was a meditation, a prayer, a respite.



  1. "And consider, always, every day, the determination / of the grass to grow despite the unending obstacles." Yes. Perfect to reflect upon. Oliver seems to be a great choice for me during this time.

  2. Great choice. I have yet to find my happy place in reading.


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