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

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Tagged: ,


  • BethP: God I love Mary Oliver.

    This is my favorite of hers:

    Happy New Year Sarah!! xo7 years ago

  • That last line of the poem you linked to just slays me.7 years ago

  • Maria: Oliver is my very favourite poet. Especially The Summer Day. It’s the poem I keep in my pocket both for when the going gets rough and when days are good.7 years ago

  • Jane: Thank you, I really needed to read this today!7 years ago

  • Sara Rose: Ive just recently found Mary Oliver too. Thank you!!7 years ago

  • Katie @ cakes, tea and dreams: I love this poem – one of my favorites by Mary Oliver. (Though “The Summer Day” is my absolute favorite.) Happy New Year, Sarah.7 years ago

  • I’m bookmarking “Summer Day” so I can bust it out for all of you come June. 🙂7 years ago

  • Laureen: This poem is an inspiration–and a kick in the ass, which is exactly what I need right now. Thanks, Sarah!7 years ago

  • Suzy: Holy s–t!!!!7 years ago

  • Herb P.: I’ve ready so many Mary Oliver poems but somehow missed this one, and it seems to sum up her entire poetic philosophy. Thanks for posting.7 years ago

  • Gretchen: boy did i ever need this. thanks, and happy new year sarah!!7 years ago

  • Kelly: Sarah, I love your taste in poetry. This poem is perfect for a friend of mine who’s dealing with some difficult issues. I passed it on to her, and she was rendered speechless. In a good way. I can’t thank you enough for posting it.7 years ago

  • keishua: This is one of my favorite Mary Oliver poems. Think I ran across in O a few years back. You have a very inspiring site her. Happy New Year.7 years ago

Add a comment