'Honey At The Table' by Mary Oliver
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It fills you with the soft
essence of vanished flowers, it becomes
a trickle sharp as a hair that you follow
from the honey pot over the tableand out the door and over the ground,
and all the while it thickens,grows deeper and wilder, edged
with pine boughs and wet boulders,
pawprints of bobcat and bear, untildeep in the forest you
shuffle up some tree, you rip the bark,you float into and swallow the dripping combs,
bits of the tree, crushed bees - - - a taste
composed of everything lost, in which everything lost is found.
Editor 1 Interpretation
The Sweet Nectar of Life: A Literary Criticism of Mary Oliver's Honey At The Table
Mary Oliver's poetry is like a breath of fresh air, a burst of sunshine, and a sip of sweet honey all at once. Her words are simple yet profound, evoking images of nature in all its glory and speaking directly to the heart. In her collection, "Honey At The Table," Oliver continues to explore the themes of spirituality, love, and the natural world that have become the hallmarks of her poetry. This literary criticism and interpretation will delve into the themes, style, and imagery of this wonderful collection and uncover the secrets that make it so special.
Themes: Spirituality, Love, and Nature
One of the most striking aspects of "Honey At The Table" is the way that Oliver seamlessly weaves together themes of spirituality, love, and the natural world. In many of her poems, she explores the idea of God or a higher power through the lens of nature. For example, in "White Heron Rises Over Blackwater," she writes, "God, rest in my heart / and fortify me, take away / my hunger for answers." Here, she is asking for guidance and strength from a divine source, while also acknowledging the beauty and power of the natural world.
Love is another important theme in Oliver's work, and "Honey At The Table" is no exception. In many of her poems, she writes about the love between humans, the love between humans and animals, and the love between humans and the natural world. For example, in "To Begin With, the Sweet Grass," she writes, "Every day / I walk out into the world / to be dazzled, then to be reflective." Here, she is expressing her love for the world around her and her desire to experience its beauty every day.
Finally, nature is perhaps the most prominent theme in all of Oliver's work, and "Honey At The Table" is filled with imagery of the natural world. From the bees that produce the titular honey to the swallows that fly overhead, Oliver's poetry is a celebration of the beauty and wonder of the natural world. For example, in "The Poet Compares Human Nature To The Ocean," she writes, "Some of us are like a shipwreck / raised from the bottom of the sea / but the ocean refuses us." Here, she is using the ocean as a metaphor for the natural world, highlighting its power and majesty.
Style: Simplicity and Clarity
One of the things that makes Oliver's poetry so accessible and approachable is her simple and clear writing style. Her poems are often short and to the point, with little to no flowery language or complicated metaphors. Instead, she uses plain language to convey deep emotions and complex ideas. For example, in "The Gift," she writes, "Be still, my soul, and steadfast. / Earth and heaven both are still watching / though time is draining from the clock / and your walk, that was confident and quick, / has become slow." Here, she is using simple language to convey a sense of introspection and contemplation.
Another aspect of Oliver's style that is worth noting is her use of repetition. Many of her poems feature repeated phrases or lines, which serve to emphasize certain ideas or emotions. For example, in "Yes! No!" she writes, "I wanted to write poems that were / the equal of my hopes and despairs. / That were as real as streetlamps or as / dull as brass. / I wanted to write poems / that were hard, like a steel / fist." Here, the repeated phrase "I wanted to write poems" emphasizes the speaker's desire to create something powerful and meaningful.
Imagery: Nature in all its Glory
Perhaps the most striking aspect of "Honey At The Table" is its use of imagery. Oliver's poetry is filled with vivid and evocative descriptions of the natural world, from the buzzing of bees to the sound of waves crashing on the shore. For example, in "Honey at the Table," she writes, "the bees have / found the forest again, the wood’s / heart, and are thick / in the blossoms there." Here, she is using the image of buzzing bees to convey a sense of abundance and fertility.
In "Everyday," Oliver uses the image of the ocean to convey a sense of awe and wonder. She writes, "I saw the ocean for the first time / and I thought / my life / will never again / be so small." Here, the vastness of the ocean serves to remind the speaker of the limitless possibilities of life.
Finally, in "When I Am Among the Trees," Oliver uses the image of trees to convey a sense of peace and serenity. She writes, "Around me the trees stir in their leaves / and call out, ‘Stay awhile.’" Here, the trees are personified, suggesting that they have a life and a voice of their own.
Conclusion: The Sweetness of Life
In "Honey At The Table," Mary Oliver reminds us of the sweetness of life, the beauty of the natural world, and the power of love and spirituality. Her poetry is a celebration of the simple pleasures of life, from the buzzing of bees to the sound of waves crashing on the shore. Through her simple and clear writing style and vivid use of imagery, she invites us to experience the world around us with fresh eyes and an open heart. "Honey At The Table" is a delightful collection that will leave you feeling uplifted and inspired, and it is a testament to the power of poetry to enrich our lives and nourish our souls.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Poetry Honey At The Table: A Sweet and Thought-Provoking Poem by Mary Oliver
Mary Oliver, one of the most celebrated poets of the 20th century, has left an indelible mark on the world of poetry with her unique style and profound insights. Her poem, "Poetry Honey At The Table," is a perfect example of her ability to capture the essence of life's simple pleasures and turn them into something profound and thought-provoking.
The poem begins with a simple image of honey on the table, a common sight in many households. However, Oliver's use of the word "poetry" to describe the honey immediately elevates it to something more than just a condiment. The honey becomes a metaphor for the beauty and sweetness of life, something to be savored and appreciated.
Oliver then goes on to describe the act of spreading the honey on bread, a simple and mundane task that many of us do without much thought. However, she imbues this act with a sense of reverence and mindfulness, urging us to slow down and appreciate the small moments in life. She writes, "It fills you up, the way it is supposed to, / spreading itself so evenly and so generously / over your bread."
The poem then takes a turn as Oliver reflects on the fleeting nature of life. She writes, "And then, of course, / there is the poem, / the one that urges you gently / to let go of the past / and step into the day / which is already waiting for you / with its fresh bread and its honey." Here, Oliver reminds us that life is short and we should not waste our time dwelling on the past. Instead, we should embrace the present moment and all its sweetness.
The final stanza of the poem is perhaps the most powerful. Oliver writes, "So, come on, / take a knife, / or a spoon, / or a silver fork, / and dip it into the honey / that waits for you on this table. / Dip it good. / This is your life, / your one and only life, / and it is waiting for you / to discover its sweetness again."
Here, Oliver urges us to take action and seize the moment. She implores us to dip our utensils into the honey and savor its sweetness, just as we should savor the sweetness of life. The use of the word "discover" is particularly poignant, as it suggests that the sweetness of life is always there, waiting for us to uncover it. All we have to do is take the time to appreciate it.
In conclusion, "Poetry Honey At The Table" is a beautiful and thought-provoking poem that reminds us to appreciate the simple pleasures in life. Mary Oliver's use of metaphor and imagery elevates the mundane act of spreading honey on bread to something profound and meaningful. The poem urges us to let go of the past and embrace the present moment, reminding us that life is short and we should savor every moment of it. So, the next time you see honey on the table, take a moment to appreciate its sweetness and remember the wise words of Mary Oliver.
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