Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese

Category: Culture, Poetry
Last Updated: 17 Aug 2022
Pages: 3 Views: 1505

The gentle, tone in Oliver’s poem “Wild Geese” is extremely encouraging, speaking straight to the reader. In this particular poem, the lines don’t rhyme, however it is still harmonious in not only rhythm but repetition as well. Take note of the rhythm in the lines starting with the word “You”: “You do not have to be good,” “You do not have to walk,” “You only have to let. ” This rhythm is also heard in the lines starting with the word “Meanwhile”: “Meanwhile the world goes on,” “Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles,” “Meanwhile the wild geese. The reiteration of the words “You” and “Meanwhile” presents a soft rhythmic element to the writers expression. It attracts readers with its tenderness while also inspiring the understanding with what this poem really means. The metaphors Oliver uses are hardly ever unexpected. She uses a comprehensible dialect in its place. It may not seem too convincing, yet it makes an absolute piece become meaningful and worthwhile. It is not complicated to picture wild geese flying across the atmosphere.

However, it is flattering when sitting alongside the scenery of sun and rain “moving across the landscapes over prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers. ” Oliver uses this identical representation in order to illustrate humanity reaching out to those that are feeling completely alone. Once more, this is not very complicated, but a fascinating metaphor. Oliver may be considered a poet of irony; however there is no way her work can be considered to be “boring. Her established word choice contains traditional gracefulness while at the same time adding modern thoughts about both nature and the human race. I feel the first line in the poem “Wild Geese” is probably the most memorable and intentional of the entire sonnet. The second and third line seems to prove this by maintaining the perception that one can choose whether they want to be a “good” person. The second line “you do not have to walk on your knees,” gives meaning to one exhibiting worshiping.

The third line “for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting” is implied as the agony along with the motivation to be penalized for their corrupt actions. The fourth and fifth lines “you only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves,” include the opening association of man to nature. While the first three lines tell you what you do not have to do, these two lines explain what you only have to do. The sixth line draws readers especially into this poem. The words “tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine,” make an exceptionally moving demand.

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This calls attention to human desolation and displays strong enthusiasm to share stories of it with predominantly the reader. The lines seven to eleven imply that anguish is precisely a human characteristic. The seventh line explains that while mankind may wait around and mourn their misfortune and discouraging situations, “the world goes on. ” The “world” here, nevertheless, belongs to the environment. The eight through eleventh line tell us that “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. The eleventh and twelfth lines say, “Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again. ” So far, the poem has addressed the environment in somewhat broad expressions, but in these lines, a specific animal is identified. Like the sun, rain, and landscapes, the wild geese are going about their business, unconscious to man’s desolation. The representation of geese flying “high in the clean blue air” is a pleasing setting. If we paid more attention to everything that is going on in nature, humankind could greatly benefit from this.

Line fourteen states “Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,” is directed towards the reader. Although most of the time Oliver may not personally know her readers, she says that “whoever you are,” if “you” are lonely and despairing, this poem is for “you. ” Lines fifteen and sixteen state, “the word offers itself to your imagination, calls you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting. ” Even though, the word “harsh” usually refers to a negative implication, here it seems to imply simply piercing and firm.

In these two lines, Oliver uncovers the process by which individuals relate to the environment. The concluding lines, seventeen and eighteen, state “over and over announcing your place in the family of things,” this assures the readers that they are not all alone in their lonesomeness. Oliver entails that our world is unyielding about welcoming people to it. Here the “family” is made up of all of nature—the sun and rain, rivers and mountains, and every member of the animal kingdom. One needs only to have an interesting imagination in order to fit in with society.

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Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese. (2018, Sep 25). Retrieved from

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