Thursday, August 31, 2006

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.

7 comments:

jdaviddark said...

how incredibly good.
sarah's been having a great time with mary oliver's work as of late.

thankee

The Harbour of Ourselves said...

i agree with mr dark (and would just like to say how bloody good your 'gospel according to america' is! - stunning!)

this is my personal favourite:

'The Journey'

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.

© Mary Oliver.

mister tumnus said...

ah i knew i'd heard of her before! i read this on cary's blog a while ago. didn't realise it was the same writer. excellent.

mister tumnus said...

the life you save might be your own.

this sort of thought is haunting me at the minute.

The Harbour of Ourselves said...

dave andrews talked about it at Gb - freaked me out too - i seem to spend most trying to lose mine

mister tumnus said...

is that talk available for download? i must check it out later. thanks. as for losing lives... i think i am only beginning to realise my self as separate from the thoughts of others (or my thoughts about their thoughts).

i am the tree in the woods which doesn't disappear when you walk out of the forest.

and that is somewhat frightening to me.

The Harbour of Ourselves said...

yes it is, it's titled 'Being the Change we want to see'

very very moving...beware