calming down

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


21 thoughts on “calming down

  1. Mary Oliver is one of the great poets. I was lucky enough to meet her once, hear her, terrific person too, at the Block Island Poetry Project – can’t work out how to link from a comment – it is here –
    Thankyou thankyou for the reminder to read some more now and again.

    1. Hi Gilly, sometimes I’m in the mood for poetry, sometimes glossy fiction, sometimes a worthy book, often a gritty crime novel. But I’m very bad at exploring poetry; I tend to trawl through whatever anthologies are in the house rather than investigating a bit wider!

  2. Fiona, do you know how many years it took me to realize the truth of that first sentence? Too many. Gorgeous piece of writing. I hope you are enjoying your Irish Saturday.

    1. It’s entirely possible that I’m still learning that one! Sometimes I get really fed up trying to be the better person when I just want to let rip 🙂

  3. I am always caught off guard by her words and how poignant they are.

    …You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.

    How simple, sweet and loving.Thanks for posting Mary Olivers’ poem for me to read and embrace once again!

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