In “Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver,” Oliver offers a collection of almost all her best poems throughout the year. With poems dating back to 1963, it includes some of my all-time favorites such as “Music Lessons,” “Wild Geese,” and “The Summer Day.”
As one moves through the book, we can see Oliver’s spiritual evolution over time as we see her fascination with nature deepen over time. A romantic poet, she captures the complex beauty of “Daisies” and “Whistling Swans?” She begs us to join her in her return to nature as to explore our most inner-selves with lines such as this one:
“Tell me, what it is you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”
Regardless of the era, these lines will remain as existential questions for all of humanity to ponder.
“Devotions” also provides a plethora of intimacy as demonstrated by “Dog Songs” and allows one to experience emotions, regardless of whether they’re foreign to you. “Music Lessons,” for instance, offers an escape from the world through the playing of music, which rings in your ear a long time after you read the poem. As said so eloquently by Oliver in “Little Dog’s Rhapsody in the Night:
“Could there be a sweeter arrangement?”
When it comes to Oliver’s “Devotions,” no. There really could not be. If you’re interested in purchasing the collection, click the link below, which also contains a free preview: