Friday Friyay: ' Devotions' by Mary Oliver

 This week I gifted myself a poetry collection, Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver. Usually I'm not a major poetry fan, I often can't connect to it, but I kept seeing snippets of her poetry around and wanted to truly get to know it in full. I am really enjoying her poems so far, so I thought I would share two with you today!

Throughout her celebrated career, Mary Oliver has touched countless readers with her brilliantly crafted verse, expounding on her love for the physical world and the powerful bonds between all living things. Identified as "far and away, this country's best selling poet" by Dwight Garner, she now returns with a stunning and definitive collection of her writing from the last fifty years.

Carefully curated, these 200 plus poems feature Oliver's work from her very first book of poetry, No Voyage and Other Poems, published in 1963 at the age of 28, through her most recent collection, Felicity, published in 2015. This timeless volume, arranged by Oliver herself, showcases the beloved poet at her edifying best. Within these pages, she provides us with an extraordinary and invaluable collection of her passionate, perceptive, and much-treasured observations of the natural world.

Book Beginnings is at home on Rose City Reader, hosted by Gilion Dumas, and Friday 56 at Freda's Voice, hosted by Freda. I'll also be joining the Book Blog Hop, hosted by Billy over at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. 


'I Wake Close to Morning
Why do people keep asking to see
        God's identity papers
when the darkness opening into morning
        is more than enough?
Certainly any god might turn away in disgust.
Think of Sheba approaching
        the kingdom of Solomon.
Do you think she had to ask,
        "Is this the place?"

This is from her last collection, Felicity from 2015, and I thought it was a lovely opening to the collection. Why must there be proof of beauty and hope and faith, if you can experience it for yourself each morning. It's like a reminder to trust yourself. 


'I Worried
I worried  lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not, how shall
I correct it?

Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?

Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it and I am, well,

Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
lockjaw, dementia?

Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning.
and sang
.' p.59

This one really hit close to home for me because of the spikes in anxiety I've been experiencing the past few months. While I'm not quite capable of "giving it up" yet, this poem did make me unclench a little, which feels like a solid first step.


This week's question was suggested by Billy himself:

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein vs. Bram Stoker's Dracula. Which classic horror tale is scarier?

Whenever you put up Shelley's Frankenstein as a choice I'm going to have to go with it. It is simply a masterpiece. While it is not scary in the way people expect, in my opinion, it holds some deeply horrifying truths about human nature. The Creature himself isn't horrifying, although of course the idea of animated, stitched together body parts is the worst, but how bereft and alone he is, how his neglect leads to murder, how Frankenstein's abhorrence creates horror, well, it's quite something! Or as this meme puts it:

I straight up copied this meme from Reddit, if someone knows who to credit it to lemme know!

So that's me! A good mix between poetry and horror makes for an intriguing October Friday, I'd say. What are you reading?


  1. Great excerpts! I don't often enjoy poetry, but these do grab the reader. Thanks for sharing, and for visiting my blog.

    1. Same here, but Mary Oliver did somehow catch my attention! Thanks for dropping by :)

  2. I need some poetry in my life at the moment... That first excerpt is beautiful and I've actually read it more than once now.

    Love the meme on Frankenstein. Very true indeed!!!

    Have a good weekend and happy reading!

    Elza Reads

    1. Aah I'm glad that it hit home with you as well! Sometimes a good poem does really do the trick. Thanks for dropping by :)

  3. I don't read much poetry but the 56 excerpt really spoke to me. I'm a bigtime worrier, so I can relate. Thanks for sharing! Hope you have a great weekend! :)

    1. I felt such relief reading that poem knowing there is the possibility of letting all the worry go one day xD Thanks for dropping by!

  4. Oh I love the poetry! I'm not one to read entire books of poetry, but I love both of those so maybe that book is the one.

    I agree with you about the real reason Frankenstein is such a horrifying story. I think it's not scary so much as it is deeply disturbing, because of Victor's irresponsible attitude and arrogance and what it leads to.

    1. I'm really enjoying dipping into this one in the morning or evening, just before going to bed, just to read one or two! I'm also reading them out loud to myself, which really helps me slow down. Otherwise I just race through a poem and then it does nothing for me! And I think disturbing is the perfect adjective for Frankenstein! Thanks for dropping by :)

  5. I've heard of Mary Oliver. I like both poems you shared, but the second is definitely my favorite.

    1. I'm glad you liked them and that the second one also hit home for you! Thanks for dropping by :)

  6. Mary Oliver is a poet who everyone can enjoy. I named my children's book blog based on a line from one of her poems (although it's a reference I didn't expect anyone to get.) The 56 poem resonates with me as well, Thank you for sharing and happy weekend!

    1. Aah that's amazing! And yes, I do think anyone and everyone can connect to her love for nature and her message of slowing down and really taking life in! Thanks for dropping by :)

  7. I'm not much of a poetry reader, but this looks like a good collection. Enjoy and have a great weekend!

    1. Poetry can be so hit or miss for me as well, but this one is becoming a solid hit! Thanks for dropping by :)

  8. Sounds like lovely poetry! Happy weekend!

    1. They really are lovely, I agree! Thanks for dropping by :)

  9. What a great book to have in one's personal library!


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