I Have a Problem with Mary Oliver

I have a problem with Mary Oliver.

Much as I like her

and I do have a book of hers

all of her poems after a while

seem the same.

It may seem harsh but it’s a judgment

people could make of my poems

or, for that matter, any one’s poems.

Each poet has a voice, just as each singer has,

each artist, and that voice inhabits each of their poems.

You can recognize a Billy Collins poem,

a Charles Simic poem, a Lewis Carrol poem,

or, for that matter, a Shakespeare or Ben Jonson poem.

Each poem within a poet’s work is, of course, different,

but the song, to use  Led Zeppelin phrase, remains the same.

There is no way out of it. No way around it.

Maybe familiarity does breed contempt.

But many of us find comfort in familiarity too,

Swings and Roundabouts.

10 thoughts on “I Have a Problem with Mary Oliver

  1. a simple answer, Carolyn, and I find more and more of my posts emanate from what someone has said in their post : another argument for reading other people’s posts especially if they have ‘liked’ yours 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I like her poetry, but I also like many others. I try to read and hear a lot of voices, and with Mary, as others, often know what I’m getting when I dip my toe in. thought provoking


  3. I agree. I read her poems from time to time. They are thought provoking. My favourite — it is not in my book — is a poem about a stillborn kitten with ‘one large eye in the centre of its small forehead’. It can be found online


  4. So true! I think it’s hard to always catch a new train. We ride the old ones so comfortably. When walking with a fried, we often did what her husband called “the dementia loop” because he said we would lose brain function doing it so often. But our brains are good at loops. And if a loop works once, it’s hard to resist repeating it. A new loop is a leap. A new voice is a risk, a consumption of energy.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s