Bride of Amazement : a Buddhist perspective on Mary Oliver's poetry
The thesis undertakes a Buddhist reading of Mary Oliver’s oeuvre. It seeks to fill a palpable lacuna in extant criticism of her work, which tends to adopt Romantic, Feminist, Ecocritical, and Christian viewpoints. Thus far, no criticism has offered a sustained reading of her work from a specifically Buddhist stance. The thesis is structured in five chapters. The introductory chapter is followed by a literature review. The next three chapters are devoted to the Buddhist themes of Mindfulness, Interconnection, and Impermanence respectively. Each chapter opens with detailed consideration of its respective theme before moving on to the analysis and amplification of poems pertinent to it. In addition, the main Buddhist theme of each chapter is subdivided into its component sub-themes or corollaries. The main methodological approach to Oliver’s poetry comprises explication de texte as this makes provision for detailed readings of the texts themselves. Furthermore, this approach has been adopted because it allows for in-depth exploration of Oliver’s literary devices, three notable examples of which are anaphora, adéquation, and correspondence. In the course of the discussion, reference is also made to the influence of Imagism and, more specifically, the Japanese haiku tradition insofar as they impact on her poetry. This discussion is intended to give some indication of Oliver’s place within the American poetic tradition. The predominant subject-matter of her corpus is an all-encompassing view of the natural world with its birth-life-decay-death cycle. She does not flinch from addressing the harsh and violent aspects of nature as well as its exuberance and beauty. Her unifying topos is being the bride of amazement as witness to the natural world. For her readers, this witnessing translates into an inner, potentially transformative process, ultimately integrating mind and heart. The thesis concludes with a list of references and a glossary of the Buddhist terms.
- Humanities