Mary Oliver’s WILD GEESE

Autumn has fallen so completely now. The geese pass over daily. In honor of the changing season, here’s one of Mary Oliver’s very best nature poems.

Born September 10, 1935 in Maple Heights, Ohio, Oliver published her first collection of poems in 1963. Her 5th collection, American Primitive, won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1984. Oliver’s work, influenced by such luminaries as David Thoreau and Walt Whitman, finds inspiration in nature. “When it’s 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.”

WILD GEESE

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 your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhle 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.

.

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  • Copyright © 2011-16, Dianne Ebertt Beeaff. All Rights Reserved.
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