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.


In January 2019, Mary Oliver, the Pulitzer Prize winning poet, was welcomed by heroes Walt Whitman and John Keats to the great storytellers club in the sky.

In her poem The Summer Day, she gave us words to live by, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Join the discussion

  1. Terri

    …’I want to think again of dangerous and noble things. I want to be light and frolicsome. I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing as though I had wings’ (just like our girls trips!)

  2. Lisa

    …how beautifully appropriate…here’s to listening to that small voice within.

  3. Jodi Bobenic

    She was a wise woman❤️

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