Book Recommendation: Thirst by Mary Oliver

When reading the poems presented in Thirst, you will encounter themes involving nature, which Mary Oliver is famous for writing with distinctive sensitivity and care. Relating her encounters and observations of the natural world to themes of life, death, and spirituality, Oliver presents the human experience in a way that allows the reader to revel in the vastness of nature, while still prompting them to be introspective. In a poem titled The Winter Wood Arrives, Oliver equates the task of preparing for the upcoming frigid weather to the idea of being ‘warmed’ by love, spirituality, and personal fulfillment.

An excerpt from the poem reads:

How to keep warm

is always a problem,

isn’t it?

of course, there’s love.

and there’s prayer.

I don’t belittle them,

and they have warmed me,

but differently,

from the heart outwards.


what swirls of frost will cling

to the windows, what white lawns

I will look out on

as I rise from my morning prayers,

as I remember love, that leaves,

yet never leaves,

as I go out into the yard

and bring the wood in

Oliver’s calming and thoughtful writing is a perfect pairing with this transitional time of year in our region. Our clocks have recently been set back, the morning ice is appearing on our windows, and our radiators are most likely hissing at home, which creates a great atmosphere to enjoy this brief, but impactful, collection of poetry.

If you enjoyed Thirst by Mary Oliver and are looking for additional works that highlight nature, request to borrow Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman or The Book of Delights by Ross Gay at your local Lackawanna County Library branch today!

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