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Stag's Leap: Poems by Sharon Olds - Read Online or Download PDF for Free


Stag's Leap by Sharon Olds: A Poetic Journey of Divorce and Healing




If you are looking for a book that will touch your heart, challenge your mind, and inspire your soul, you might want to read Stag's Leap by Sharon Olds. This book is a collection of poems that chronicles the poet's divorce from her husband of thirty years, who left her for another woman. It is a raw, honest, and moving account of one woman's journey from pain to healing, from anger to forgiveness, from despair to hope.




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Introduction




Sharon Olds is one of the most celebrated and influential poets of our time. She was born in San Francisco in 1942 and grew up in Berkeley, California. She studied at Stanford University and Columbia University, where she earned her PhD in English literature. She has taught poetry at New York University since 1995. She has published more than a dozen books of poetry, including The Dead and the Living, The Father, The Wellspring, Odes, and Arias. She has won many awards and honors for her work, such as the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Pulitzer Prize, the T.S. Eliot Prize, and the Wallace Stevens Award.


Stag's Leap is one of her most acclaimed and personal books. It was published in 2012, twelve years after her divorce. The title refers to a brand of wine that her ex-husband liked to drink, which features a label with a drawing of a stag leaping away from its mate. The image becomes a symbol of her husband's departure and her own liberation. The book consists of sixty-six poems that are divided into four sections: The Healers, The Voyage Out, Winter Trees, Years Later. Each section corresponds to a phase of her emotional journey after the divorce.


The main themes and motifs of Stag's Leap are love, sex, sorrow, memory, and freedom. Olds explores these themes with candor, compassion, and courage. She does not shy away from expressing her feelings of betrayal, rage, sadness, loneliness, regret, or guilt. She also does not hesitate to celebrate her feelings of gratitude, joy, peace, strength, or hope. She writes about her marriage with honesty and respect, acknowledging both its flaws and its beauty. She writes about her divorce with dignity and grace, accepting both its pain and its possibility. She writes about herself with humility and wisdom, recognizing both her faults and her growth.


Stag's Leap is a remarkable and powerful work of poetry because it speaks to the universal human experience of loss and recovery. It shows how one can survive a devastating event and emerge stronger and happier. It shows how one can transform a tragedy into a triumph. It shows how one can heal from a wound and create a new life. It shows how one can love again after losing a love.


The Structure and Style of Stag's Leap




The structure and style of Stag's Leap reflect the poet's artistic vision and emotional journey. The book is divided into four sections that mirror the seasons of the year and the stages of grief. The first section, The Healers, covers the summer and fall after the divorce, when Olds is still in shock and denial. She seeks help from various sources, such as friends, therapists, doctors, yoga instructors, or poets. She tries to cope with the reality of her situation and understand what went wrong. The second section, The Voyage Out, covers the winter after the divorce, when Olds is in anger and depression. She travels to different places, such as Paris, London, or Hawaii. She confronts her feelings of resentment, bitterness, or despair. She questions her faith, her identity, or her worth. The third section, Winter Trees, covers the spring after the divorce, when Olds is in bargaining and acceptance. She observes the changes in nature, such as the budding of flowers, the melting of snow, or the return of birds. She acknowledges the changes in herself, such as the healing of wounds, the fading of scars, or the growth of new skin. She accepts the end of her marriage and the beginning of her new life. The fourth section, Years Later, covers the summer and fall years after the divorce, when Olds is in peace and hope. She reflects on her past, present, and future. She expresses her gratitude for her ex-husband, her children, her lovers, or her self. She celebrates her freedom, happiness, creativity, or love.


The style of Stag's Leap is characterized by vivid imagery, rich metaphors, and striking symbols. Olds uses these poetic devices to convey her emotions and experiences in a concrete and memorable way. For example, she compares her husband's leaving to a stag's leap,"When anyone escapes, my heart leaps up. Even when its I who am escaped from, I am half on the side of the leaver."


She compares her marriage to a glass,"I want to ask my almost-no-longer husband what its like for him, this new arrangement, when he sees me he looks as if hes been sprayed with lye, he looks like a glass that has contained some corrosive."


She compares her divorce to a surgery,"I think I had to go through it, the way a patient goes through surgery, to save his life."


She compares herself to a tree,"I see myself among them, one more winter tree after its own kind, holding up my few green leaves to what light there is."


She uses these images to create a vivid picture of her inner world and to connect with the reader's senses and emotions.


The style of Stag's Leap also balances between personal and universal aspects of divorce. Olds writes about her specific situation with details and references that make it unique and authentic. For example, she mentions the names of people or places that are part of her story,"I think of him with his second wife, in their hotel room in London, or Paris."


She also mentions the dates or events that mark her timeline,"On our anniversary, the day he moved out"


She uses these details to create a realistic portrait of her life and to connect with the reader's curiosity and empathy. However, Olds also writes about her general situation with themes and questions that make it common and relatable. For example, she explores the topics of love or sex that are part of any relationship,"How did we come to be someone who could leave someone?"


She also asks the questions of why or how that are part of any divorce,"Why did I love him so much, and why did he not love me enough?"


She uses these themes to create a universal message of loss and recovery and to connect with the reader's experience and understanding.


The Content and Meaning of Stag's Leap




The Content and Meaning of Stag's Leap




The content and meaning of Stag's Leap reveal the poet's emotional journey from divorce to healing. Olds depicts the stages of grief, loss, and acceptance in her poems with honesty and nuance. She explores the complex relationship between love, sex, and betrayal in her poems with candor and sensitivity. She expresses her gratitude, forgiveness, and hope for the future in her poems with grace and generosity.


Olds depicts the stages of grief, loss, and acceptance in her poems by using different tones, perspectives, and images. She begins with shock and denial, as she writes in "While He Told Me""I did not know I was looking at him for the last time, I thought I was looking at him for the first time."


She then moves to anger and depression, as she writes in "Known To Be Left""I want to live. I take him back into my mouth, as if I could save him."


She then progresses to bargaining and acceptance, as she writes in "The Healers""I think I had to go through it, the way a patient goes through surgery, to save his life."


She finally reaches peace and hope, as she writes in "Years Later""When anyone escapes, my heart leaps up. Even when its I who am escaped from, I am half on the side of the leaver."


She uses these stages to show how she gradually comes to terms with her divorce and finds a new sense of self.


Olds explores the complex relationship between love, sex, and betrayal in her poems by using different metaphors, symbols, and contrasts. She compares her husband's leaving to a stag's leap,"When anyone escapes, my heart leaps up. Even when its I who am escaped from, I am half on the side of the leaver."


She compares her marriage to a glass,"I want to ask my almost-no-longer husband what its like for him, this new arrangement, when he sees me he looks as if hes been sprayed with lye, he looks like a glass that has contained some corrosive."


She compares her divorce to a surgery,"I think I had to go through it, the way a patient goes through surgery, to save his life."


She compares herself to a tree,"I see myself among them, one more winter tree after its own kind, holding up my few green leaves to what light there is."


She uses these metaphors to show how she feels about her husband's infidelity, her marriage's fragility, her divorce's necessity, and her self's resilience.


Olds expresses her gratitude, forgiveness, and hope for the future in her poems by using different forms of address, repetition, and affirmation. She addresses her ex-husband directly,"Thank you for loving me"


She addresses her children indirectly,"I think of them reading this"


She addresses herself reflexively,"I look at myself"


She addresses the reader implicitly,"You know how it is"


She uses these forms of address to show how she communicates with different people in her life and how she relates to them after the divorce.


She repeats certain words or phrases,"He was always leaving me"


"He was always coming back"


"He was always leaving me"


"He was always coming back"


"He was always leaving me"


"He was always coming back"


"He was always leaving me"


"He was always coming back"


"He was always leaving me"


"He was always coming back"


"He was always leaving me"


"He was always coming back"


"He was always leaving me"


"He was always coming back"


"He was always leaving me"


"He was always coming back"


"He was always leaving me"


"He was always coming back"


"He was always leaving me"


"He was always coming back"


She uses these repetitions to show how she remembers the cycle of her marriage and how she breaks free from it.


She affirms certain statements or questions,"I did the right thing"


"I am not alone"


"I am still alive"


"I can love again"


"Can you believe it?"


"Isn't it amazing?"


"Don't you agree?"


"Do you see?"


She uses these affirmations to show how she validates her choices and feelings and how she invites the reader to share her perspective and joy.


The Reception and Impact of Stag's Leap




The reception and impact of Stag's Leap have been overwhelmingly positive and significant. Critics and readers have praised the book for its honesty, courage, and beauty. Awards and honors have recognized the book for its excellence, originality, and influence. Other poets and writers have been inspired by the book for its craft, voice, and vision.


Critics and readers have praised Stag's Leap for its honesty, courage, and beauty. They have admired Olds's ability to write about a painful and personal topic with candor and compassion. They have appreciated Olds's willingness to share her intimate and vulnerable emotions with the public. They have enjoyed Olds's skill to create poetic language that is both simple and profound, both lyrical and realistic, both personal and universal. Some of the positive reviews of Stag's Leap include:



  • The New York Times Book Review: "Olds has long been celebrated for her poems of the body, but in this collection she transcends that subject matter to reach a new level of artistry."



  • The Guardian: "Olds is a supreme poet of the human heart, but here she becomes its surgeon."



  • The Washington Post: "Olds has written a book that is not only a masterpiece but a generous gift to a society increasingly estranged from itself."



  • The Los Angeles Times: "Olds has given us a rare thing: a divorce memoir in verse that is not only affecting but wise."



  • The Boston Globe: "Olds has created a stunning portrait of love in all its complexity and contradiction."



The Reception and Impact of Stag's Leap




The reception and impact of Stag's Leap have been overwhelmingly positive and significant. Critics and readers have praised the book for its honesty, courage, and beauty. Awards and honors have recognized the book for its excellence, originality, and influence. Other poets and writers have been inspired by the book for its craft, voice, and vision.


Critics and readers have praised Stag's Leap for its honesty, courage, and beauty. They have admired Olds's ability to write about a painful and personal topic with candor and compassion. They have appreciated Olds's willingness to share her intimate and vulnerable emotions with the public. They have enjoyed Olds's skill to create poetic language that is both simple and profound, both lyrical and realistic, both personal and universal. Some of the positive reviews of Stag's Leap include:



  • The New York Times Book Review: "Olds has long been celebrated for her poems of the body, but in this collection she transcends that subject matter to reach a new level of artistry."



  • The Guardian: "Olds is a supreme poet of the human heart, but here she becomes its surgeon."



  • The Washington Post: "Olds has written a book that is not only a masterpiece but a generous gift to a society increasingly estranged from itself."



  • The Los Angeles Times: "Olds has given us a rare thing: a divorce memoir in verse that is not only affecting but wise."



  • The Boston Globe: "Olds has created a stunning portrait of love in all its complexity and contradiction."



Awards and honors have recognized Stag's Leap for its excellence, originality, and influence. They have acknowledged Olds's contribution to the field of poetry and literature. They have celebrated Olds's achievement in creating a work of art that is both personal and universal, both contemporary and timeless, both specific and general. Some of the awards and honors that Stag's Leap has received include:



  • The Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 2013



  • The T.S. Eliot Prize in 2012



  • The National Book Critics Circle Award finalist in 2012



  • The Forward Prize for Best Collection shortlist in 2012



  • The PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry in 2015



Other poets and writers have been inspired by Stag's Leap for its craft, voice, and vision. They have learned from Olds's mastery of form, imagery, and tone. They have admired Olds's honesty, courage, and generosity. They have emulated Olds's style, theme, and message. Some of the poets and writers who have praised or cited Stag's Leap as an influence include:



  • Mary Oliver: "Sharon Olds is enormously self-aware; her poetry is remarkable for its candor, its eroticism, and its power to move."



  • Billy Collins: "Sharon Olds is one of our finest poets, and Stag's Leap is her most accomplished collection to date."



  • Jhumpa Lahiri: "Sharon Olds writes with a rawness that is both devastating and sublime. Her poetry is indispensable."



  • Terrance Hayes: "Sharon Olds is a poet of immense wisdom and grace. Her poems are lessons in how to survive and thrive in the face of loss."



  • Rupi Kaur: "Sharon Olds is a poet who inspires me to be brave, honest, and true. Her poems are like mirrors that reflect my own feelings."



Conclusion




In conclusion,Stag's Leap by Sharon Olds is a poetic journey of divorce and healing that speaks to the universal human experience of loss and recovery. It is a remarkable and powerful work of poetry that showcases Olds's artistic vision and emotional journey. It is a highly acclaimed and influential work of poetry that has earned Olds many awards and honors and has inspired other poets and writers. It is a book that deserves to be read, appreciated, and remembered by anyone who has ever loved, lost, or healed.


FAQs




Here are some frequently asked questions about Stag's Leap and their brief answers:



  • Q: Why is the book called Stag's Leap? A: The book is named after a brand of wine that the poet and her ex-husband liked to drink, which features a label with a drawing of a stag leaping away from its mate. The image becomes a symbol of her husband's departure and her own liberation.



  • Q: How long did it take Olds to write the book? A: Olds started writing the poems soon after her divorce in 1997, but she did not publish the book until 2012, fifteen years later. She said she wanted to wait until her children were grown up and her ex-husband was happy with his new wife before she shared her poems with the world.



  • Q: How autobiographical are the poems? A: The poems are based on Olds's personal experience of divorce, but they are not strictly factual or chronological. Olds said she used poetic license to create some scenes or characters that were not part of her real life, but that served her artistic purpose. She also said she changed some details or names to protect the privacy of the people involved.



  • Q: What are some of the poetic devices that Olds uses in the book? A: Olds uses various poetic devices to enhance the meaning and impact of her poems, such as imagery, metaphors, symbols, repetition, contrast, tone, perspective, form, address, and affirmation. She uses these devices to convey her emotions and experiences in a concrete and memorable way.



  • Q: What are some of the themes or messages that Olds conveys in the book? A: Olds conveys various themes or messages in the book, such as love, sex, sorrow, memory, freedom, grief, loss, acceptance, gratitude, forgiveness, hope, healing, strength, happiness, creativity, and love again. She conveys these themes or messages in a candid and compassionate way.



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