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.
· · · · · ·
Mary Oliver, born in 1935 in Cleveland, Ohio, is part of the Modern American Poetry genre. A post-Romantic naturalist, Oliver has won many awards (Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award...). She has published ten collections of poems and is a professor at Bennington College in Vermont. You can buy her books at your local bookstore, through Booksense.com. Wild Geese was first published in Dream Work, Atlantic Monthly Press, 1986, © 1986 Mary Oliver.
Published under the provision of U.S. Code, Title 17, section 107.
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