Wild Geese and Goose

I’ve memorized this poem by Mary Oliver:

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees for 100 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.

Why does this poem remind me of Frankie Laine?

Cry of the Wild Goose
By Frankie Laine
My heart knows what the wild goose knows,
I must go where the wild goose goes.
Wild goose, brother goose, which is best?
A wanderin’ fool or a heart at rest?


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  1. Border Explorer’s avatar

    Ooo, this is cool. We visited the wild geese last week and I took a kajillion photos. I’m going to blog soon our day at Horicon Marsh. Truly, they are amazing. These poems are the next best thing to being there.

  2. Mardé’s avatar

    Hi Billie! Glad you liked these poems. That’s amazing that you took all those pictures at that marsh. This is the season for birds flying, isn’t it!

  3. Mark Burnham’s avatar

    I like the one by Mary Oliver…I see her walking her dog on the beach almost every day when I am at the Cape.

  4. Mardé’s avatar

    That’s interesting, Mark. I guess the Cape’s a great place for poets and artists. Say, did you have a Dad by the name of David? He was my first friend in life.

  5. Mark Burnham’s avatar

    Sure, David was my dad…I remember you folks of course..and often saw Cynthia when I worked at Drew Farms in Westford many years back…


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