Monday, February 14, 2005

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.

From Dream Work, 1986

This poem posted without permission. This blogger has no intention of making any money off of it. She only hopes that folks will click the Dream Work link above and purchase this collection of Mary Oliver's poems. Like all of her collections, it's really good and will give you hours of reading and moodling pleasure.


violet said...

Isn't Mary Oliver wonderful?!

I found a book by her about writing poems - A Poetry Handbook - this fall when I was prepping to do a little talk on poetry at a conference which has since got cancelled. I took copious notes - typed them all out... but really wished I owned whole book.

Here is the ending of the book(from my notes): "Poetry is a life-cherishing force. And it requires a vision - a faith to use an old-fashioned term. Yes indeed. For poems are not words, after all, but fires for the cold, ropes let down to the lost, something as necessary as bread in the pockets of the hungry. Yes indeed."

Waterfall said...

What a great quote! I don't have A Poetry Handbook, but I do have "Rules for the Dance" or something like that. I haven't read the whole thing yet, but it looks like a great source for a poetry class.

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