Tuesday, August 11, 2015


By 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.
Life dishes out many disconsolate and crestfallen moments in everyone’s life. Constant contact and observation of nature can be restorative and offer wisdom to learn and move forward. These nature experiences cannot be rationally defined. But perhaps most essential is the feeling of a universal rhythm of which we are a part of. In this poem of Mary Oliver's, good and evil, guilt and despair, are proper to the human world, but beyond that there is a larger world and its very existence calls us to transcend our human worries.
Mary Oliver is a marvellous American poet. She disarms us in the beginning itself by stating that ‘You do not have to be good’ and to be spiritually worthy and you don’t have to crawl on your knees asking forgiveness. How softly she tells us to move forward without regret and with calm acceptance of life in the subsequent lines that are full of candour, empathy (tell me about despair, yours and I will tell you mine) and practicality. Yes, we need to love and trust ourselves about what we feel as good and whatever we feel as nourishing to us, irrespective of spiritual dogmas and perspectives others impose on us. The image of Wild Geese’s unwavering decision to return to its nest is apt here. They really know where they truly belong to even after a splendid summer and cosiness in another place. Each of us has a place in the family of things. This poem teaches us about finding one's place in the world and accepting life for what it is. Loved every bit of this inspiring poem. Poetry is Viagra.

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