Aug 8 – “Wild Geese”

Monday, August 8   “over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”

Yesterday, I was catching up with an old friend after too long a hiatus.  I tracked his email address and found a batch of emails.  In three of them we exchanged posts about a poem both of us like a great deal.  I read it again and decided to post it on this first Monday of the second week of this new academic year.  I imagined that my dad would have liked this poem a lot.  11 months ago, writing about this Mary Oliver poem, “Wild Geese,” brought me back to October 1980 when he died.  I wrote:

“While he was dying, after pancreatic cancer gone to the liver made him thin and jaundiced, one day he put on a business suit, now too big for his body, and went one last time to the little city bank where he had been president for years.   He stopped at each person’s work place, told each person goodbye, that he was proud to have worked with them, shook hands, and came back  home where we had moved his bed down stairs into the dining room for his last weeks.

A man who enjoyed the ordinary human condition and respected the women and men who lived it.  He would have liked this poem.  The poem likes him I think.”

It’s good to read strong poems, like this one, out loud.

have a blest day.


john sj

Today’s Post:   “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.


Mary Oliver
Sept 10, 1935

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