White Pine: Poems and Prose Poems

Mary Oliver, Author
Mary Oliver, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $19.95 (55p) ISBN 978-0-15-100131-6
Reviewed on: 10/31/1994
Release date: 11/01/1994
Balance means everything to Pulitzer Prize-winning Oliver (House of Light), and in this brief, evocative gathering of poetry and prose she continues to characterize and share her sense of balance, whether meaning a verbal equilibrium or an educated sense of nature's order. ``In the Blackwater Woods,'' for example, a 14-part poem, moves outward from ``the center of the universe,'' a ``woodshed/ which I keep filling,'' to the far point where matter can vanish. In ``At the Lake'' Oliver chooses to address balance in aural terms with an opening series of off-rhymes that both tilt the poem and help to unify it. Elsewhere, the writer observes the balances about her: the prose poem ``Snails'' explores balance as seen in the point of connection that links a narrator and the snails she watches. Oliver is a cool and modest presence in the world her poems summon. Sometimes, she is a festively whimsical one. But neither her modesty nor her shows of whimsy are more interesting than the deft, clear, unpredictable path she traces between them. (Nov.)
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