I thought about this Mary Oliver poem the other day and wondered why I never posted it last year. I’d say that this one and the one below are her two most well-known poems, heavily used in the sort of “serenity now” inspirational sites that include pictures of waterfalls. But at least people are reading poems, right?
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 voices 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 you could save.