Cover image for Long life : essays and other writings
Long life : essays and other writings
Oliver, Mary, 1935-
Personal Author:
First Da Capo Press edition.
Publication Information:
Cambridge, MA : Da Capo Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
xiv, 101 pages ; 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3565.L5 L65 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



The gift of Oliver's poetry is that she communicates the beauty she finds in the world and makes it unforgettable" ( Miami Herald ). This has never been truer than in Long Life , a luminous collection of seventeen essays and ten poems. With the grace and precision that are the hallmarks of her work, Oliver shows us how writing "is a way of offering praise to the world" and suggests we see her poems as "little alleluias." Whether describing a goosefish stranded at low tide, the feeling of being baptized by the mist from a whale's blowhole, or the "connection between soul and landscape," Oliver invites readers to find themselves and their experiences at the center of her world. In Long Life she also speaks of poets and writers: Wordsworth's "whirlwind" of "beauty and strangeness"; Hawthorne's "sweet-tempered" side; and Emerson's belief that "a man's inclination, once awakened to it, would be to turn all the heavy sails of his life to a moral purpose." With consummate craftsmanship, Mary Oliver has created a breathtaking volume sure to add to her reputation as "one of our very best poets" ( New York Times Book Review )."

Author Notes

Mary Oliver was born in Maple Heights, Ohio on September 10, 1935. She attended Ohio State University and Vassar College, but did not receive a degree. Her first collection of poems, No Voyage and Other Poems, was published in 1963. Her other works include White Pine, West Wind, Why I Wake Early, Thirst, Red Bird, Swan: Poems and Prose Poems, A Thousand Mornings, and Blue Horses: Poems. She has won numerous awards including the Pulitzer Prize for American Primitive, the Christopher Award and the L. L. Winship/PEN New England Award for House of Light, and the National Book Award for New and Selected Poems.

Her books of prose include A Poetry Handbook, Blue Pastures, Rules for the Dance: A Handbook for Writing and Reading Metrical Verse, and Long Life: Essays and Other Writings. She held the Catharine Osgood Foster Chair for Distinguished Teaching at Bennington College from 1995 to 2001.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Winner of both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for her poetry, Oliver also writes exquisitely lucid prose. Here, in her most generously personal essays to date, she articulates the beliefs, observations, and inspirations that feed her poetry as she contemplates the majestic beauty of the earth and its splendid creatures, including humankind. Oliver ponders death and remembrance, marvels over the unexpected boon of an old town dump, considers the indelible impression left by childhood revelations of the power and mystery of nature, and reveals her literary legacy in a set of sterling tributes to Wordsworth, Emerson, and Hawthorne. And, finally, this essential American poet literally brings it all home in a radiant reflection on the crucial "connection between soul and landscape." --Donna Seaman Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

"I would rather write poems than prose, any day, any place" writes Mary Oliver, "Yet each has its own force." Her Long Life: Essays and Other Writings intersperses a few verses among prose pieces as various as "Dog Talk," "Emerson: An Introduction" and "Where I Live." As "Sand Dabs, Nine" puts it, "The energy of attempt is greater than the surety of stasis." (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Oliver is best known for her collections of poetry (e.g., The Leaf and the Cloud). She is also the author of A Poetry Handbook, one of the quintessential tools of encouragement, advice, and direction for the budding poet. In this arresting anthology of 17 essays and ten poems, similar in style to Sarah Orne Jewett's The Country of the Pointed Firs, Oliver takes her time word painting charmingly simple yet deeply enduring pictures of interactions among women and men, animals, and nature. She appears to etch each line with ease, which is the stamp of the professional, pointing out that prose is the softened, fleshy story, while poetry remains the stark revelation in writing. Each word touches the next, forming a virtual symphony of visuals. Daily tasks become touching rituals that define who we are, while the mundane is made sparkling, sometimes sharp, and even shattering yet never dull or lost owing to repetition. Recommended for large public and academic poetry and literary collections. Kim Harris, Rochester P.L., NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Forewordp. xiii
Part 1 Flowp. 1
Flowp. 3
Habits, Differences, and the Light That Abidesp. 10
Poem: Can You Imagine?p. 14
Three Histories and a Hummingbirdp. 15
Part 2 Wordsworth's Mountainp. 19
Wordsworth's Mountainp. 21
Dog Talkp. 26
The Perfect Daysp. 32
Poem: Just as the Calendar Began to Say Summerp. 35
Waste Land: An Elegyp. 36
Part 3 Artists of the Beautifulp. 41
Emerson: An Introductionp. 43
Hawthorne's Mosses from an Old Mansep. 52
The House of the Seven Gablesp. 62
Part 4 Dustp. 73
Prose Poem: Are You Okay?p. 75
Poem: Softest of Morningsp. 76
Dustp. 77
Sand Dabs, Sevenp. 81
Poem: The Morning Walkp. 83
Sand Dabs, Eightp. 84
Comfortp. 86
Sand Dabs, Ninep. 88
Homep. 89
Poem: Summer Nightp. 92
Poem: Carrying the Snake to the Gardenp. 93
Poem: By the Wild-Haired Cornp. 95
Where I Livep. 96
Poem: Waking on a Summer Morningp. 100
Prose Poem: One Winter Dayp. 101
Acknowledgmentsp. 102