'Bride Married to Amazement': Poet Mary Oliver Dies

Beloved Pulitzer-winner was 83
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 18, 2019 1:00 AM CST
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In this Nov. 18, 1992 photo, Mary Oliver appears at the National Book Awards in New York where she received the poetry award for her book "New and Selected Poems."   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

(Newser) – Mary Oliver, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet whose rapturous odes to nature and animal life brought her critical acclaim and popular affection, has died. She was 83. Bill Reichblum, Oliver's literary executor, said she died Thursday at her home in Hobe Sound, Florida. The cause of death was lymphoma. "Thank you, Mary Oliver, for giving so many of us words to live by," tweeted Hillary Clinton. Author of more than 15 poetry and essay collections, Oliver wrote brief, direct pieces that sang of her worship of the outdoors and disdain for greed, despoilment, and other human crimes, the AP reports. One of her favorite adjectives was "perfect," and rarely did she apply it to people. Her muses were owls and butterflies, frogs and geese, the changes of the seasons, the sun and the stars.

Oliver grew up in rural Ohio. Her partner of more than 40 years, photographer Molly Malone Cook, died in 2005. Oliver's poetry books included White Pine, West Wind and the anthology Devotions, which came out in 2017. She won the Pulitzer in 1984 for American Primitive and the National Book Award in 1992 for New and Selected Poems. In 1998, she received the Lannan Literary Award for lifetime achievement. She wrote often of mortality, but with a spirit of gratitude and completion. In "Circles," she pronounced herself "content" not to live forever, having been "filled" by what she saw and believed. In "When Death Comes," she hoped that at the end of life she could look back and see herself as a "bride married to amazement."

(Read more poet stories.)

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