old man winter

It hasn't stopped snowing since the storm started last night. The fields that were so close to bare are covered once more. The weather man on Vermont public radio told us, in a lengthy allegorical tale (that is typical of his weather reports) of Old Man Winter, the rock musician, who was coming down to Vermont from Québec to play a farewell tour this week.

Last spring my sister sent me her copy of a volume of Mary Oliver's poetry for my 28th birthday. She marked a couple of poems which she insisted I read. The following has been floating in my head these past days.....over and over announcing your place / in the family of things.

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 New and Selected Pomes: Vol 1


  1. that poem is one of my very favorites. i love to teach it too. "the journey" is another one of my favorites. good luck with snow and all that long winters entail.

  2. Lovely , lovely words. But that snow looks like a bitch. : ) Stay warm.


  3. I was given a copy of Mary Oliver's work by one of my favorite teachers after Oliver spoke at our high school. That poem is my absolute favorite. Still gives me shivers just to read it, what, 15 years after the first time.

  4. oh, I love that. How beautiful. Looks like I need to go pick myself up some Mary Oliver.

  5. No signs of Spring where I live... We are expecting snow again tomorrow..

  6. Kate this is so strange. A few weeks ago I pulled down Dream Work from the shelf and have been stuck on Wild Geese ever since. It is so wonderful I've decided I should commit it to memory (which is not easy for me) so I can have it on hand at all times. It would be one of a very few poems I know by heart. First Sight (by Philip Larkin) is one. If you aren't familiar with it, please look it up. I have a feeling you'll love it, too. Spring will come.

    1. Sophie that is a lovely little poem of lambs. Thank you for sharing it. Hope spring has found you too!


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