Mary Oliver, award winning poet, died yesterday at the age of 83. She was one of the first poets of my adulthood. In school, I hated poetry, even though I wrote some. My poetry didn’t look anything like what we were taught. My teachers tended toward the epic:

Should you ask me, whence these stories?
Whence these legends and traditions,
With the odors of the forest
With the dew and damp of meadows,
With the curling smoke of wigwams,
With the rushing of great rivers,
With their frequent repetitions…*

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Sorry Henry, I couldn’t get into the flowery epic, oh so epic, poems. My attention span is still too short. I swear, the only poetry we were exposed to in school was poetry intended to make us all hate poetry.

But after high school, I slowly found other poets, and Mary was one. I could pick up a book of her poetry and savor. She helped me into the land of poetry, and now I read a poem nearly every day. Thank you, Mary.


* From The Song of Hiawatha, by Longfellow.


  1. I love Mary Oliver. Along with Sharon Olds, she was my favorite contemporary poet. Now she joins the classics. R.I.P., Mary. You were simple in your profundity, beautiful in your truths.

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