Authority in Poems

“It makes sense, of course. Authority in poems is difficult to maintain if it does not come from the writer as well as the words. It is this force, invisible but in its place, that allows the formal construct of the poem to foster believability, and therefore import. And such authority is essential if the words are to carry us over the wild waste spaces of thought. Altogether, the poem of experience (rather than the poem of idea) is the mainstay of this century’s work…”

“…the task of elevation, of making experience memorable, is all the poet’s work…”

“…illuminating the usual patterns of life is surely among the most meaningful and the most difficult of our human labors.”


Mary Oliver, from the foreword to “Necessary Light” by Patricia Fargnoli. Utah State University Press, 1999.