Poem – Mary Oliver, Wild Geese

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 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 deep trees,

the mountain 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.

- Mary Oliver, from Dream Work

Shepherdesses Watching a Flight of Wild Geese, Jean Francois Millet 1866

Shepherdesses Watching a Flight of Wild Geese, Jean Francois Millet 1866

The poems of Mary Oliver touch me, they help me find my place in the family of things. She captures the essence of life in the simplest phrases. I am a visual person and her words create images that guide me on my journey as she puts into words things I feel and can’t express. I have always found nature, even in my own garden, a place where I feel I belong. Among plants and living creatures I feel connected and life makes more sense to me. The longer I journey in this life the more I see that happiness for me is living in harmony with nature and keeping my life simple. One of my favorite Mary Oliver poems is The Uses of Sorrow.

The Uses of Sorrow (In my sleep I dreamed this poem)

Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.

It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.

- Mary Oliver, from Thirst

Today’s post might seem a bit of a stray for a gardening blog but the blog is also about learning life’s lessons! Reading the second poem several years back was an epiphany, a little miracle and the message hit home and I was able to put something difficult in my life into perspective. That also happens to me in the garden where I can hear myself think, away from the distractions and the hustle and bustle of modern life.

In putting this post together I came across a review of Thirst in The Guardian it is a good read.

Wishing you all a wonderful autumn weekend! I hope you take time to go for a walk or sit in your garden!

Happy Gardening!

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