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a poem

March 05, 2015 2 min read

We carry a beautiful book of poems by Mary Oliver in the store called “A Thousand Mornings”. Below is another of Oliver’s poems, not included in the edition we carry. Amy sent it to me a few years ago, at a moment where I needed comfort, grounding and a connection. I think it is a poem that all women should carry in our back pocket.--Jane 


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.
Wild Geese by Mary Oliver 


" ... I was trying to do a certain kind of construction. Nevertheless, once I started writing the poem, it was the poem. And I knew the construction well enough that I didn't have to think about, just if I need an end-stopped line here or... It just worked itself out the way I wanted for the exercise. That's kind of a secret. But it's the truth. It was there in me. Yes. Once I heard those geese, and said that line about anguish. Where that came from, I don't know... "

As told to Trent Gillis from On Being