Sunday, December 29, 2013

Book Review - Dog Songs: Poems, Mary Oliver

Dog Songs: Poems


Mary Oliver

Category: Poetry; Dogs

Synopsis: Oliver collects poems written about the dogs she’s shared her home and heart with.

Date finished: 23 November 2013

Rating: ****½

It’s been a long time since I’ve read anything by Mary Oliver, unless of course you count my yearly reading of this poem. But poems by Mary Oliver and poems about dogs is a confluence I couldn’t ignore. I bought this book when it came out, and I’ve been saving it for when I needed to fill myself up in only the way poetry can. After finishing the biography of Rose Kennedy’s rather hedonistic approach to life, I wanted Mary Oliver’s approach. And this volume did not disappoint.

It’s hard to review a book of poetry. It either hits you like a sucker-punch or it doesn’t. And what brings me to my knees may not even move you. But I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this book will appeal to most. Oliver has a way of distilling things down to their very essence. She talks about human nature by talking about the natural world. And in this book, she shows you human nature through the love one feels for dogs.

What I love most about her poetry? She doesn’t apologize for what she loves, what affects and changes her, what molds and remolds her on a daily basis. She does this with simplicity, grace, and humor. She doesn’t take herself too seriously here—a dog won’t let you do that anyway. My only complaint is that there weren’t enough poems.

A few lines from the poem “Her Grave”:
     A dog comes to you and lives with you in your own house
     but you
     do not therefore own her, as you do not own the rain, or the
     trees, or the laws which pertain to them.

Would you recommend this to a friend?
Yes, especially to those who enjoy dogs and poetry.

You might also enjoy:
Maddie on Things
Stag’s Leap
The Hungry Ear

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