Thirst is Mary Oliver's 2006 collection, containing forty-three works from the poet that frame her experiences in the time after her partner of four decades passed away. While her poems always have a way of exposing the rawness of nature and freedom and love, here she sets her sights on slightly different territory: namely the nakedness of grief and the honesty of passing through it, back to the place of comfort that looks slightly different after knowing loss. Sweetly, peacefully, she faces that place with hope and courage. Some poems are decidedly more religious in context than some of her others, but with ever as much food for the secular soul. As she explores her encounters with Christianity she reveals her prayers directly while remaining faithful (as it were) to the religion that has always governed her work: the naturalness and beauty of the rustic world.
Also in this collection is one of her most famous poems, slight and timeless, "The Uses of Sorrow" (Someone I loved once gave me / a box full of darkness. / It took me years to understand / that this, too, was a gift.). That poem serves as a breaking point, one can imagine; it calls to mind the feeling of sliding through the melancholy of memories and into the place where they evoke happiness and comfort again. With such topics as loss and grief as her muse, Oliver gives a remarkable example of the power of hope as she offers some of her characteristically whimsical and pensive lines, reminding us again of the boundless expanse of imagination.
Exquisite, wise, and affecting, Thirst proves the unequivocal fact that Mary Oliver’s poems are the lifeblood of grace and harmony; and of gratitude, even in the face of great loss.