Wild Geese Poem By Mary Jane Oliver Summary, Notes And Line By Line Analysis In English


“Wild Geese” was included in Mary Oliver’s sixth collection, Dream Work, which was released in 1986. The speaker of the poem exhorts readers to be receptive to the wonders of nature.

The speaker observes that while humans are preoccupied with their small problems, the natural world is as free and unhindered as a flock of geese flying overhead. The poem honors nature’s majesty and its capacity to serve as a reminder that, after all, individuals are a part of something significant and huge.

About the poet

American poet Mary Jane Oliver, who passed away on January 17, 2019, was born on September 10, 1935, and she was a National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winner. Her lifelong love of solo treks in the woods led her to draw inspiration for her art from nature rather than the human world.

It is marked by an unpretentious vocabulary that conveys a true surprise at the power of natural pictures. She was recognized as the nation’s best-selling poet in 2007.

Line 1-3

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.

The poem’s opening three lines advise the reader not to work too hard to remember. The poet claims that being good or the best is not necessary. You don’t have to hurt yourself by going through a hundred miles of desert walking on your knees only to satisfy some source’s demand that you repent. The poet wishes to release the reader from the idea of perfection and to make them carefree.

Line 4-5

You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Through these lines, the poet conveys to the reader that they should let their souls love what they wish to love. The poet encourages the reader to love what they desire to love without reservation or fear. By loving what you want to love, the poet suggests that you don’t have to strive for perfection.

Line 6-11

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.

The poet requests that you share your sufferings with her, and in return, she will share her own. The poet exhorts you to acknowledge that while you are expressing your despondency, the world is continuing to be beautiful. Every possible arrangement is being made around the globe to help things work out. The sun and rain’s shards are moving over the stunning scenery as you speak. Over the grasslands, dense woods, mountains, and rivers, the sun and rain are traveling. The globe is developing as time passes.

Line 12-13

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.

As the reader expresses his or her desperation to the poet, the scenery is changing and the wild geese are flying home after a day out. The poet alludes to a wild bird returning home to convey the idea that winter is over. It’s the happy and autumnal season.

The poet wants the reader to feel content and certain that all of their desperations will pass at some point. Nothing endures forever.

Line 14-18

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.

The poem discusses the wonders and beauties of the planet. It implores readers to allow themselves to grieve for whatever length they choose while still appreciating the natural beauty of the world’s blossoming clouds, trees, mountains, and birds.

The poem also emphasizes that the reader shouldn’t blame themselves for their suffering and problems because pain and despair are just fleeting. Instead, people should allow themselves to experience their sorrow and let the world’s blossoming clouds, trees, mountains, and birds reveal their beauty to them.