Embodied Sacredness of Life and Nature’s Assurance in Mary Oliver’s Avian Poems (78339)

Session Information: Literature/Literary Studies
Session Chair: Akiko Takei

Saturday, 25 May 2024 12:55
Session: Session 3
Room: Room 608
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation

All presentation times are UTC + 9 (Asia/Tokyo)

The poetry of Mary Oliver has long been loved and celebrated for its poignant portrayal of nature and lucidity in spiritual contemplations. Spirituality in her poems is both transcendental and embodied, finding expression through the infinite realm of nature and manifesting within the physical bodies and everyday lives of earthly beings. It is precisely because of this mutually implicated duality of nature that provides a vast well of meaning for understanding the purpose of living. In her essay “The Swan,” Mary Oliver recounts the rules of poetry writing that she set years ago for herself—she determined that her poems should “have a spiritual purpose” and should possess “a pulse, a breathiness, some moment of earthly delight.” Birds occupy a prominent place in Mary Oliver’s works, with “Wild Geese” standing as arguably her most renowned poem. Her bird poems are exemplary of her fascination with nonhuman lives and the concept of spiritual humility, highlighting the interdependence of humans with other life forms in nature’s web of life. The paper aims to explore Mary Oliver’s poems that centre around birds, particularly examining their reflections on the spiritual implications of avian life and ecology. Mary Oliver’s bird poems are not only aesthetic expressions of her avian imagination but evince a spiritual philosophy of nature’s sacredness that connects birds and humans through our shared embodied existence, a relationship that suggests the creative significance of being.

Chak-Kwan Ng, Hong Kong Metropolitan University, Hong Kong

About the Presenter(s)
Dr Chak-kwan Ng is a University Assistant Professor/Lecturer at Hong Kong Metropolitan University in Hong Kong

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Posted by Clive Staples Lewis

Last updated: 2023-02-23 23:45:00