Poem of the Month

Wild Geese | Mary Oliver

wild geese mary oliver world of books poem of the month

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, published in Dream Work, 1986
poem of the month world of books blog

‘To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work’

Described by the New York Times as ‘far and away, [the US’s] best selling poet’, Oliver’s poetry and other writings have been tantalising imaginations since her first publication in 1963. Mary Oliver sadly passed away in January of this year but her writing lives on, breathing and renewing itself with every read.

‘Wild Geese’ is a poem which represents both freedom and community, themes that are often addressed as separate entities. Oliver has a way of connecting the ability to be one’s self with the significance of individuals coming together in unison. It is easy to be inspired by Mary Oliver’s artistic and honest observations of nature. Perhaps looking up and out of ourselves is the best way to understand what’s inside.

Get closer to the wonders of nature in Mary Oliver’s poetry, or find something else inspiring in our grand selection of second-hand poetry books from nature writing to confessionalist poets.

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How does the poem Wild Geese make you feel about your place in the world? Let us know your opinions on our August Poem of the Month in the comments below.

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