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Likely Stories - Why I Wake Early by Mary Oliver

Magnificent collection of the finest nature poems by Mary Oliver.

I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.

Mary Oliver is one of the most celebrated poets in America. She had published numerous books of poetry. She is my favorite poet. Why I Wake Early is another of her wonderful works.

Many of her poems in this book are long, so I will focus on middle sized poems. Why I Wake Early: “Hello, sun in my face. Hello, you who make the morning and spread it over the fields and into the faces of the tulips and the nodding glories, and into the window of, even, the miserable and the crotchety—best preacher that ever was, dear star, that just happened to be where you are in the universe to keep us from ever-darkness, to ease us with warm touching, to hold us in the great hands of light—good morning, good morning, good morning. Watch, now, how I started the day in happiness, in kindness” (3). Mary is well known for her emphasis on nature.

The Arrowhead: “The arrowhead, which I found beside the river, was glittering and pointed. I picked it up, and said, ‘Now, it’s mine.’ I thought of showing it to friends. I thought of putting it—such an imposing trinket—in a little box, on my desk.

Halfway home, past the cut fields, the oldest ghost stood under the hickories. ‘I would rather drink the wind,’ he said, ‘I would rather eat mud and die than steal as you still steal, than lie as you still lie’ (11).

Look and See: “This morning, at waterside, a sparrow flew to a water rock and landed, by error, on the back of an eider duck; lightly it fluttered off, amused. The duck, too, was not provoked, but, you might say, was laughing.

This afternoon a gull sailing over our house was casually scratching its stomach of white feathers with one pink foot as it flew. Oh Lord, how shining and festive is your gift to us, if we only look, and see” (26).

Spring at Blackwater: I Go Through the Lessons Already Learned: “He gave the fish her coat of foil, and her soft eggs. He made the kingfisher’s quick eye and her peerless, terrible beak. He made the circles of the days and the seasons to close tightly, and forever—then open again” (23).

Take every opportunity to try the magnificent poems of Mary Oliver—especially Why I Wake Early. 5 stars!

Likely Stories is a production of KWBU.  I’m Jim McKeown.  Join me again next time for Likely Stories, and happy reading!

Life-long voracious reader, Jim McKeown, is an English Instructor at McLennan Community College. His "Likely Stories" book review can be heard every Thursday on KWBU-FM! Reviews include fiction, biographies, poetry and non-fiction. Join us for Likely Stories every Thursday featured during Morning Edition and All Things Considered with encore airings Saturday and Sunday during Weekend Edition.