26.11.08

you strode deeper and deeper...

Mary Oliver

The Journey


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.

*

I'm no idealist.

Oliver's poem finds the center of everything I believe in.

This is the polity I want, and it is one that affects change in me. Something I can do.

5 comments:

Lisa Allender said...

This poem is extremely "galvanizing"--it's as if the poet said "No excuses, anymore.".
Brilliant.

sam of the ten thousand things said...

This is a poem that's deep in my marrow.

M. C. Allan said...

This is a really great one. I've always loved the last lines in particular, which seem both a call to action and a reminder of human limitations.

greg rappleye said...

One of my favorite poems.

This one got me through some very difficult times.

sam of the ten thousand things said...

Thanks, MC and Greg, I appreciate the visit.