Mar 03 2017

Mary Oliver – Wild Geese

Published by at 10:06 am under Poetry

Wild Geese
by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

— from Dream Work, by Mary Oliver


/ Image by lil-Mickey /

I have the sense that it has been a rough week for many people, so I wanted to pick a gentle poem, something uplifting, something that invites us to pause, take a deep breath, and catch a new glimpse of ourselves and the world…

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.

To me this poem is a healing balm, the way it invites us to forgive our own struggles and look beyond them to a larger, living grandeur, of which we are a part.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes…

Late winter here in Colorado…

the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting

Look up and see “the wild geese, high in the clean blue air…” Ancient purpose, animal and magnetic, lined up in chevrons across the winter sky. That eternal determination that marks our direction through the world, to be always “heading home again.”

The geese continuously call out one to another, as we all do, “over and over announcing your place / in the family of things.”


Recommended Books: Mary Oliver

New and Selected Poems Why I Wake Early Dream Work House of Light 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

7 responses so far

7 Responses to “Mary Oliver – Wild Geese”

  1. Christineon 03 Mar 2017 at 1:11 pm

    What Winter!? 🙂 I live in Centennial and except for a few snow falls and wintry-like days we’ve been unusually warm and dry, 70’s and 80’s in Feb! Good for the heating bill though 🙂 You’re right it was an intense week for some reason… The energies are more and more chaotic… We could use a good cleansing rain… btw – you don’t need to publish this, am just responding off the cuff 🙂 ” Meanwhile the world goes on.” Indeed… <3

  2. Ivan M. Grangeron 03 Mar 2017 at 1:14 pm

    It has been a fairly dry, warm winter here in Colorado, hasn’t it? I originally wrote that commentary a few years back… during the winter. When I reread it, I figured, well, it is still technically winter, so I’ll leave it in. But it hasn’t felt like a typical Colorado winter.

  3. Monica Armaninoon 03 Mar 2017 at 4:26 pm

    Hi Ivan,

    This is one of my favorite Mary Oliver poems. It is a great uplifting meditation poem…you can feel Mary’s caring and listening to nature and to others…thanks for sharing your view.

    Come visit us in Tahoe we have had our share of your snow. Believe we will get a couple more feet this weekend.

    Blessings,
    Monica

  4. Ivan M. Grangeron 06 Mar 2017 at 9:32 am

    Thanks for the invitation, Monica. I don’t know that I’ll make it out to your beautiful area in the near future. Perhaps you can send a bit of your snow our direction. (Not too much though.)

  5. Carolon 04 Mar 2017 at 5:55 am

    Thank You Ivan. This has been a difficult week for me and I do appreciate Mary
    Oliver’s poetry, especially Wild Geese. I am recovering from cataract surgery, doing
    fine but extra appointments and attention. Then my sister had a traumatic fall
    to the pavement striking the right side of her face with much swelling, terrible looking
    eye. The eye will not need surgery, but the bone beneath her eye was fractured and
    will need surgery eventually. How much we take for granted when we are well. . .

    But the geese did return to our North Cove this week. Like long lost friends, so
    comforting. . . Thank you for helping us remember. Carol

  6. Ivan M. Grangeron 04 Mar 2017 at 7:40 am

    Oh, Carol, this week really packed it in for you. Even when life is going smoothly, it often feels challenging. It takes real grace to integrate those unexpected crises and injuries. I hope you and your sister are recovering well. Sending love.

    Ivan

  7. Yvonne Aburrowon 07 Mar 2017 at 2:21 am

    I love this poem – thanks for posting it!

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