Mary Oliver

Upstream: Selected Essays

“Something is wrong, I know it, if I don't keep my attention on eternity. May I stay forever in the stream.”

From beloved, and recently deceased, American poet, Mary Oliver (b. 1935 – 2019) is Upstream essays about thinking, inspiration, and reflection.

For example, Oliver, like many who turn to nature to find their best selves, notices things of upmost importance that are often overlooked.

What Rilke called “living in questions” Oliver terms “keeping attention on eternity.” Connecting with one’s true self and the things that endure. “Upstream” simply means away from responsibilities and needful things. It means into nature, into a place that cries out for us, and consequently to which we long to return.

Additionally, read more on nature as a catalyst for self-renewal in Sylvain Tesson’s Consolations of the Forest and from Oliver’s unmet mentor, Emerson, who centered his Transcendental philosophy on a belief that nature was one and the same as humanity and thus enobled us beyond the temporal.