The Wisdom of Mary Oliver

Yesterday, the well known American poet Mary Oliver passed away at the age of 83.  She wrote about such powerful themes as nature, who we are and and our place in the world.  She had been known to keep to herself and allowed her poetry to speak for her.

One of her most famous poems is called The Journey.  It is a wonderful poem that reminds us to listen to our own voice, to not let society tell us what to think.  The poem tells us that the journey we must take in life is never easy.  For many people, the leap into adult and further education is a kind of journey, a leap in to a new world.  A world with only our own voice as our guide.

The Journey By Mary Oliver 

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.


More quotes by Mary Oliver:

Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.
― Mary Oliver

The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.
― Mary Oliver


Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
― Mary Oliver


Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.
― Mary Oliver


view of empty road
Photo by Nicolas Postiglioni on