Monday, August 5 – Poetry List summer break ends today with Mary Oliver

“One day you finally knew
what you had to do”

Readers often surprise me with stories about a poem or a poet or self stories about insight and decision.  Sometimes the stories take me back to September 2013 when this list began during some hard times in the city and on campus.  The hard times became an intuition that led to this list, 690 posts ago.  The original wording appears at the top of the archive blog where all previous posts appear.  I re-read it now and then to remind me of the origins.  Check it out.

Best to read Mary Oliver out loud, with pauses.

Monday afternoon;  have a blest August week.

john sj


Today’s Post “The Journey”

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 voice 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 that you could save.

Mary Oliver

September 10, 1935

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