Mary Oliver’s Metaphors

The past few weeks, I have been getting to know Mary Oliver. I have read her poetry, read other’s thinking on her, listened to her own voice in a podcast, and been awestruck by the beauty Oliver is entrusting to the world. I hope I can introduce you, just a little bit, to Oliver, through some metaphors – some fun, funny, some meaningful.

Animal: Superb Starling. Mary Oliver is colorful, bright. I imagine her as this common, yet startling, bird, soaring over savannas, seeing things from a different perspective.
Plant: Daisy. Oliver’s work and life have a simple beauty to them. Her journey speaks of perseverance, and blooming even when the going is tough. Her life grew out of the dirt, among the weeds, into something beautiful.
Article of Clothing/Outfit: Colorful tunic with galoshes. Oliver adores the outdoors, especially the woods, so she wears galoshes. Oliver is vibrant.
Day of the Week: Tuesday. Oliver makes the ordinary, like Tuesdays and rain and mangoes, beautiful, and special.
Food: Lemonade. Oliver’s poetry is refreshing, but can be intense (possibly bitter in that it calls out unwelcome truth). Her beautiful imagery, a mint sprig, just to top it off.
Color: Green. Mary Oliver goes outside everyday, she writes while walking, she loves the woods. Green is just her color.
Geometric Shape: Circle. Oliver sees many different things in situations and things. She views everything with a well-rounded mind.
Fragrance: Fresh Hay. This scent sounds weird, I know, but it also sounds like a comforting scent. I think it speaks of home, and comfort. In many ways, poetry for Oliver is like coming home. Her early life was rough, and poetry was home.
Type of Building: A Sacred Space. Whether it be Buddhist or Christian, spirituality is at the center of Oliver’s work and life.
Word: Creation. Oliver marvels at creation – it’s pros and cons, uglies and pretties, goods and bads. Her work reflects her love for creation and her perplexity surrounding creation.
Musical Instrument: Flute. Oliver’s truth speaks for its own; it stands out, clearly like the high voice of a flute.
Season of the Year: Winter. Oliver’s truth can be harsh, her poems sometimes bring out the brutality of the world, much like winter can be hard. But Oliver’s poetry, and her life, is still beautiful.
Appliance / Machinery: Milk Frother. Warming your milk in the morning, to put in your coffee, is a simple joy. I have found that reading Oliver’s poetry can be a simple joy. It might not always have a profound, original idea, but it is almost always beautiful, and a joy to read.
Natural Phenomenon: Rainstorm. Frightening, powerful, and beautiful. Able to make change, peaceful.
Literary Character: Dumbledore. Oliver is wise, a little quirky, I suspect she likes knitting patterns, and adores reading and learning.

Hope you learned a bit, and enjoyed reading these metaphors.


5 thoughts on “Mary Oliver’s Metaphors

  1. Reid well done !!!! I loved your creativity in this blog post, you connected the metaphor and the author really well. I really love the comparison for the clothing you used really strong imagery and you stated it in a very simple sentence. It was simple yet had a very strong meaning to it and got your comparison that you were trying to make clear to the reader. Well done with your diction as well it helps you strengthen your post and make it more interesting. Your fragrance was unique, and that was good because you described it to the reader so the reader could somewhat relate to you. It seems like a fragrance not many would think of so it personalises your post, which allows the reader to be more engaged. Furthermore, your sentences are structured well in getting your meaning across to the reader and enabling the reader to feel what you are thinking. I would say that one thing you could improve on would be your format, maybe if you spaced it out a bit more you points may stand out more.


  2. This was a great post, Reid. Even though each metaphor is separated, the post works well as a whole to paint a detailed picture of Mary Oliver’s character. I also like the way you explained each of your metaphors. It wasn’t in an overly analytical way, describing exactly how the metaphor relates to Mary Oliver, but rather explaining the metaphor more extensively. You gave some traits of the metaphor, and the reader is left attributing the traits to Mary Oliver. One thing: the ending sentence is not the best conclusion you could have used. It is not completely conclusive, and ends the post on a tenuous note. I think it would be better to even leave out a conclusion. The rest of your post is strong enough.


  3. Reid, this was an enjoyable post! I saw your reoccurring theme in your metaphors, giving specificity to what Mary Oliver is like. The personality of Mary Oliver is closely revealed with your descriptive choices for metaphors. Also, all the while you were letting the readers know about the metaphors, you were able to still portray your own voice. Well done! One small improvement you could make is your specificity. I may be misunderstanding your post, but when you describe Mary Oliver in your post, I was confused a couple of times of whether you were describing her personality, or her poetry. Other than that, great job!


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