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Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

For R., who needs to believe in something true.

Wild Geese
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.

Comments (2)

  • Zam

    Been following you for years already, two or three years I think. Although, not as diligent as I’d like. I have always been touched by your selection of poems. But sometimes, I just use it as an excuse to read your writings. Thank you for reminding me again the beauty of words.
    Btw, I’m trying out this self-impose challenge where I have to memorize one poem a week. Wild Geese seems like a perfect starting point.


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