Sep 12 2016

Mary Oliver – The Journey

Published by at 7:08 am under Poetry

The Journey
by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.

— from Dream Work, by Mary Oliver


/ Image by along mekong /

Saturday was Mary Oliver’s birthday. I posted this poem on the Poetry Chaikhana Facebook page and people really responded to it. I thought I should share it with the wider Poetry Chaikhana email list today.

I hope this inspires some courage for the journey — your own journey.

(And Happy Birthday, Mary Oliver. Thank you for all of your wonderful, quietly transformative poetry through the years.)


Recommended Books: Mary Oliver

Why I Wake Early New and Selected Poems House of Light Dream Work Thirst: Poems
More Books >>


Mary Oliver, Mary Oliver poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry Mary Oliver

US (1935 – )
Secular or Eclectic

Mary Oliver was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1935.

As a young writer, Mary Oliver was influenced by Edna St. Vincent Millay and, in fact, as a teenager briefly lived in the home of the recently deceased Millay, helping to organize Millay’s papers.

Mary Oliver attended college at Ohio State University, and later at Vassar College.

Mary Oliver’s poetry is deeply aware of the natural world, particularly the birds and trees and ponds of her adopted state of Massachusetts.

Her collection of poetry “American Primitive” won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1984.

More poetry by Mary Oliver

One response so far

One Response to “Mary Oliver – The Journey”

  1. Kim ECelleson 12 Sep 2016 at 12:19 pm

    Mary Oliver is my favorite poet and this is my second favorite poem. It is so descriptive of transformation in its many forms. “Wild Geese” is my absolute favorite!

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