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In lines pulled taut by the tension between the silent beauty of nature and the poet's longing for words, Mary Oliver has again provided readers with plenty to think about. Consider "Stars": "How can I hope to be friends / with the hard white stars / whose flaring and hissing are not speech / but a pure radiance? / How can I hope to be friends / with the yawning spaces between them / where nothing, ever, is spoken?" Yet Oliver does strike up a kind of friendship between nature's inexpressible beauty and the necessity and solace of language. She writes vividly of each, noting the way "the sunlight and shadows are chasing each other," (from "The Dog Has Run Off Again"), in one instance, while elsewhere describing the excitement of writing poems: "little curls little shafts / of letters words / little flames leaping" (from "Forty Years"). Oliver is one of the most honored poets now writing in the English language, and, along with Wendell Berry, Gary Snyder, and A.R. Ammons, an important part of the revival we are seeing in contemporary pastoral poetry. [via]