Wild Geese

Before reading the poem – take a look at this painting. Take a good look. What’s there? Be literal. What is in this picture? What do you see?

The Red Stairway, Ben Shahn 1944

So you climbed the staircase with the one-legged man with the help of a crutch while the world about you lay in ruins. In spite of all, you started the climb while another was waist deep in the debris. The stair is red. The climb will be painfully slow and difficult but you start nevertheless. The staircase goes up and then down into a far horizon. The sky is blue. It’s 1944.

They say:  People will forget what you told them but they will never forget how you made them feel.

What does this poem make you feel?

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.

by Mary Oliver

Featured image: Geese Flying Over the Marsh, James Robinson

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