Wild geese over a moonlit lake
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

I don’t have superhuman qualities and virtues, I’m just an average guy with just a bit of imagination, a bit of courage, a bit of mindfulness. This poem reminds me to heed the call of the wild geese, to find my place in the world and the scheme of things.

Wild Geese Memorial Service  |  Contents Page