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Poem of the Day > 21. Wild Geese - Mary Oliver

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message 1: by Lee (last edited Sep 01, 2013 11:54PM) (new)

Lee 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.

(Chosen by Joy)


message 2: by Lee (new)

Lee This is beautiful - calm and comforting


message 3: by Hilary (last edited Sep 02, 2013 12:29AM) (new)

Hilary | 2082 comments Lovely poem, I like Mary Oliver, can't remember the title of the one I like best though so I'll need to look it up. I particularly like the last five lines of this which remind me of Desiderata, which I have read like a kind of mantra for years.


message 4: by Lee (new)

Lee Desiderata

Max Ehrmann


Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.


message 5: by Lee (new)

Lee I've never come across this before! It's lovely - like a less macho, more spiritual version of IF.


message 6: by Hilary (new)

Hilary | 2082 comments Glad you like it, I came upon it in my early twenties and adopted it as a principle to try to live by. That sounds really really quite pretentious but is actually true.


message 7: by Shirley (new)

Shirley As I cycled to work this morning, I saw some wild geese flying in their typical formation - so it's lovely to read this, thanks for choosing it.

I also like "Go Placidly" - heard this many years ago and I always thought what a good principle that is to live by, like you did, Hilary.


message 8: by Joy (new)

Joy Stephenson (joyfrankie) | 175 comments Thanks for putting this one in Lee. It's a very peaceful and accepting poem, expressing the idea that we simply have to slot into our rightful place. However, I think the image of the geese, and the raw power that suggests, prevents the poem from being too passive. I love the line, 'the world offers itself to your imagination'.


message 9: by Hilary (new)

Hilary | 2082 comments I also like "When Death Comes" by Mary Oliver. Sounds a depressing title but its a poem full of enthusiasm for life and hope. I particularly like the lines

When its over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms


message 10: by Lee (new)

Lee I'll slot that in for a future poem of the day


message 11: by Laurel (new)

Laurel | 1486 comments Mod
That's a lovely poem, thanks Joy


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