The Journey by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice – –
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried,
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do – –
determined to save
the only life you could save.

5 thoughts on “The Journey by Mary Oliver

  1. Mary Oliver is my favorite contemporary poet, and one of my favorite poets all time. Thanks for sharing!

  2. lillian says:

    Hi Mary:
    On to my second cup this morning and thought I’d meander over. I too love Mary Oliver. I’d never read this poem of hers….thanks so much for posting. She just “nails it on the head” so often, doesn’t she? I must admit, I am so new to this poetry writing (February)….through an online writing course I took that jogged the creative spider webs in my head….and I dug out a book I’d bought while at our beloved Provincetown in Cape Cod, a book of poetry by Mary Oliver. Devoured it.
    And here I am, these five months later, still working with my poetry mentor in continuing classes, and reading more poetry. Words…..they are truly amazing, right?

    • mincs1 says:

      I love how my experience with writing has twisted and turned and brought me along to unexpected discoveries. I agree with your comment that Mary Oliver “nails it on the head.” She seems to have the ability to dive right to the heart of matters. I’m glad you were inspired to share your writing! I really enjoy your blog 🙂

  3. Meghan says:

    Thank you for introducing me to Mary Oliver!! I have not been a huge poetry reader; I tender to favour reading haiku. Now I see that I really must branch out, Mary. So thank you for this poem – it is very apt!

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