Many ardent poetry fans worship Mary Oliver and her work. My arrival to her poems came much later than I desired, but when I read her various collections, her reflections offered a place to rest my head and seek a solace that seem absent in my life. After reading her poems, the swirl of her ideas, emotions and sentiments took over and led to reflecting in a way that did not appear attainable through a novel or short story. Her truths, singular and universal, make the hollowness of the world more bearable. Poetry often does that. It pushes you to undiscovered directions, an unrolling of a red carpet of emotions that transcend a moment. Here is one of my favorite poems by her:


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.

If you choose to explore Oliver’s poetry, I recommend Wild Geese: Selected Poems, as well as her numerous poetry collections that are listed here.

*This post is in honor of National Poetry Month, where I discuss a specific poet or poem that resonates with me. I started the series with Rediscovering Poetry, my return voyage to the poetic world.

Do you have a favorite Mary Oliver poem or line to share?

Image: “A piece of peace” by ArTeTeTrA via Flickr.