A Poem for Our Times: “Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver.

I’m a big fan of poet Mary Oliver (1935-2019). Her passion for the natural world intertwined with intense human emotion both inspire and challenge our assumptions.

Credit: Orion Magazine

“Wild Geese” (2004) is one of her most popular and often quoted poems. When I reread it recently, I thought it particularly suited for our times.

American culture is rife with public scrutiny, shame, ridicule, and censorship. Daily messages of outrage tell us that we don’t measure up. We are condemned for our beliefs and even whom we love.

“Wild Geese” is a reminder that you are enough. You don’t need to live someone else’s definition of what is “good”.

You can move past your mistakes. Each day begins anew. No matter your err of yesterday, the sun still rises and sets.

You need not be weighed down by guilt or shame. You can fly wild and free.

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.

Wild Geese: Selected Poems, Gardners Books, 2004

Author: EvelynKrieger

I'm an author and educational consultant blogging on living the creative life.

13 thoughts on “A Poem for Our Times: “Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver.”

  1. I first read this poem many years ago when it was exactly what I needed. It still brings me deep comfort and peace, like a soft warm blanket on a cold night. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing your lovely poem!!.. 🙂

    Until we meet again..
    May love and laughter light your days,
    and warm your heart and home.
    May good and faithful friends be yours,
    wherever you may roam.
    May peace and plenty bless your world
    with joy that long endures.
    May all life’s passing seasons
    bring the best to you and yours!
    (Irish Saying)

    Like

  3. I love this poem! I also love how I came across some geese resting on the sidewalk’s grass as I was returning home from my appointments at the VA. I just read your post now, which is really fitting and encouraging. Thank you!

    Like

  4. I love Mary Oliver’s poetry. She has a wonderful way of capturing a simple moment and the perfect imagery to bring about something expansive, emotional, and universal. A beautiful poem, Evelyn, and a lovely share.

    Like

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