A Friday Poem

Because I was reminded of this one by the Thursday poem. The music part of the 1983 post will appear tomorrow. I promise.

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.

Mary Oliver. Dream Work. The Atlantic Monthly Press (May 1986)

What constitutes fair use for quoting poems? Should I quote only an excerpt or is it okay to share the whole thing? It’s easy enough to select a portion of longer works, but this one is short and all of a piece. A few lines wouldn’t be particularly meaningful.

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2 Responses to A Friday Poem

  1. Mary Oliver is one of my all time favoite poets. Thank you for sharing this. I named Oliver’s “Dog Songs” as one of the best books of last year. Here is the post if you want to see what I said. I would love to hear your opinion:
    http://www.darianburns.com/2014/01/02/best-books-2013/

    • janstra says:

      That’s a great short review of Oliver’s latest collection. I haven’t read her more recent work. You remind me that I’m missing out! Thanks for your comment.

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