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Mary Oliver, poet and dog lover, has died

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Poet Mary Oliver died in her Florida home at the age of 83. She was very popular for her poetry about the natural and spiritual world and believed that poetry “must not be fancy”. Her clear, clear language usage earned her not only a legion of loyal readers, but also a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award.

Oliver was a lifelong dog lover, and dogs often came into view in their lyrical observations of life. Her dog Percy, a rescue that Oliver immortalized in her famous “Percy” poems, has been described by the poet as “a mixture of gravity and waggery”. Oliver collected her dog poems in Dog songsWe meet Bear, who runs through the snow and “expresses in large, lush letters / one long sentence / the joys of the body in this world”. And Luke, a former junkyard dog who loved flowers: “She walked briskly through the fields, but paused to touch the honeysuckle, the rose, her dark head and her wet nose, the face of each individual. ”And Benjamin, a formerly abused dog who was afraid of many things. To comfort the dog, Oliver “strokes his long dog ears” and says to him: “Don’t worry. I also know the way / the old life follows the new. “We also meet Sammy, who is notorious for roaming in Oliver’s hometown, and Ricky, an ambitious rescuer from Cuba.


One of her most cited passages about dogs is valued for the simple truth she teaches to anyone who has loved a dog:

“The dog’s joy increases our own. It is not a small gift. There is not the slightest reason why we should honor and love the dog of our own life and the dog in the street and all dogs not yet born. How would the world be without music or rivers or the green and tender grass? How would this world be without dogs? “

We’re proud to say that Mary Oliver was a fan of The Bark and occasionally wrote poetry on our pages. A few years ago, Barks’ editor received an envelope addressed to the “Poetry Editor”. It was a poem simply written on a single sheet of paper called “Mary Oliver” that appeared in the corner with an address in Providence, MA. We have received about half a dozen of these posts over the years and it was a great honor for us to publish them. Oliver graced us all with a gift of words that captured the wonder of the world, the essence of life and often the special love for a dog.

“And it’s extraordinarily short, his galloping life. Dogs die so quickly. I have my stories of this grief, and many of you no doubt too. It’s almost a failure of the will, a failure of love, to make her grow old – or that’s what it feels like. We would do anything to keep her with us and keep her young. The only gift we can’t give. “
“Mary Oliver, dog songs

One of Oliver’s poems on The Bark



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