Sunday Scribblings: Good

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

I almost feel like a cheat posting this poem. But when "good" came up as the prompt at Sunday Scribblings, I couldn't resist. Of course I thought of the opposite. I thought of how the terms good and evil have been corrupted in the War on Terror. I thought about my son, trying to explain the gray area between good and bad. I even thought about Sheryl Crow's song "Good Is Good," and idea that if you're not looking for love you could miss it. But in the end, this poem calls me back to the things of this world.

I wonder if Mary Oliver knew how powerful this first line would be when she wrote it.

I don't think I give myself enough room to fail and start again, hence my quote in the page header from Sam Becket. I don't have to be good, I just have to be myself, or "let the soft animal of [my] body love what it loves." I have to remember that in those moments of doubt, I am never alone. And as a writer, I only have to lend myself to the world to find something to write about.

This poem reminds me that every day is an opportunity to do good, to do better.


paris parfait said…
Beautiful poem and I like Sheryl Crowe's song "Good is good." Your prose and sentiments? Wonderful.
wendy said…
That Samuel Beckett quote drew me to be your PT friend..when I started. I love that you have it there. I love that you honor those who are good. You are good. So many good things about you. You are a fountain, a spring, I often come to for my thirst for good. You keep on Bubblin along!
JvS said…
There are so many lines I'd love to quote from this poem. Thank you for sharing it. I've been struggling with the burden of never quite good enough, but at least I'm open and the world certainly has crawled into my imagination.
Becca said…
Mary Oliver always has something marvelous to offer on any topic, and this is no exception.

It is hard to forgive ourselves when we flounder and fail. It is very comforting to be reminded that there is inherent goodness in letting our bodies "love what (they) love."

Wonderful, perceptive post :)
twitches said…
Mary Oliver always comforts the soul.
Catherine said…
I love this poem, too. It's a very appropriate one to remember for a prompt like this.
Bug said…
OMG. I am in love with this poem. thank you for introducing it to me. I am printing it out and hanging it everywhere right now.
January said…
Thanks, everyone, for the kind words.

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