Upstream: Selected Essays

Upstream: Selected EssaysUpstream: Selected Essays by Mary Oliver
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A lovely, contemplative book. I’m sure it would reward rereading. I loved the first third of the book where she talks about growing up and getting “lost” in nature, and her observations and musings on the spider in the stairwell. This is when Mary Oliver is at her best. The rest of the book seemed a bit uneven to me. I was a little disappointed in the section on the great romantic poets. I love Thoreau, Emerson, and especially Walt Whitman, but I didn’t feel there was any depth to her comments – it didn’t give me any insights into their work, or inspire me to pick up their poetry anew. I love Mary Oliver’s poetry, but this didn’t wow me.

Book description: A collection of essays in which Mary Oliver reflects on her willingness, as a young child and as an adult, to lose herself withing the beauty and mysteries of both the natural world and the world of literature. She contemplates the pleasure of artistic labor, her boundless curiosity for the flora and fauna that surround her, and the responsibility she has inherited from Shelley, Wordsworth, Emerson, Poe, and Frost, the great thinkers and writers of the past, to live thoughtfully and intelligently, and to observe with passion.

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