This poem has cropped up again and again in both my professional and personal lives, and every time it makes me stop and think and soak it all back up again.
Oliver draws you into an eye-opening landscape, offering a heady reminder of our own insignificance in the grand scheme of nature’s glories. But it’s a kind reminder and a kind poem, providing reassurances for life’s little worries – that we have a purpose and a place in the grand scheme of things. Our small little worlds might be falling apart but meanwhile…
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.