Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver

The American poet Mary Oliver, died this week. Her words inspired simplicity of life and appreciation of natural beauty. Her words transport readers to the essence of matters. Her symbols evoke memories of our animal nature in a wild, yet orchestrated environment.

During her life she held high aspirations for her self that were outside the convention of society. She wrote, “When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder if I have made of my life something particular, and real. I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened, or full of argument. I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.” Certainly she lived an instinctive life and represented the spirit of ecology.

The poem below interweaves nature images with the rawness and grace of traveling through life with others yet essentially alone.

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 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.

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