Wednesday, 18 May 2011

The Journey by Mary Oliver

Lancing Manor Park Wood ~ Photography by me, Robin Dalton

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. 

© Mary Oliver.


  1. I love the addition of the chanting to this powerful poem. My friend gave this poem to her therapist several years ago, and it was a determining factor in her choosing to retire. Such hard-earned wisdom here.

  2. This is a bit late, Mar. But thank you so much for your kind comment. What an interesting story you've shared. Mary Oliver has always been a favourite of mine. I have just heard that she is very ill. So she is on my mind even more. I send healing, light and prayers.