Mary Oliver, perhaps one of the most interesting poets of the 21st Century has, for someone whom In 2007, The New York Times described as "far and away, this country's best-selling poet", that's not an everyday kinda poet!
Born Mary Jane Oliver (not Peter Parker's lover), to Edward William and Helen M. (Vlasak) Oliver on September 10, 1935
In the late '50s, Oliver met photographer Molly Malone Cook, who would become her partner till his death in 2005
Her first collection of poems, No Voyage and Other Poems, was published in 1963, when she was 28,
Her fifth collection of poetry, American Primitive, won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1984 of which she has over 17 collections.
She was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2012, got treated and was given a "clean bill of health. However, she ultimately died of lymphoma on January 17, 2019, at her home in Florida.
Her most recent awards before death
One of her most notable works is THE SUMMER DAY, from which the quote above was curated and still remains her most noted quote.
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
from New and Selected Poems, 1992
Beacon Press, Boston, MA
Copyright 1992 by Mary Oliver.
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